A South Carolina man pleaded guilty Wednesday of defrauding Veterans Affairs out of nearly $200,000 after falsely claiming to have served in Vietnam.
Keith R. Hudson, 70, falsified a separation from active duty report — also known as a DD-214 — and was able to scam the VA into receiving benefits totaling $197,237, according to a Department of Justice news release. An investigation by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General revealed that Hudson had been prosecuted for the same scheme in Connecticut in 2005.
Investigators caught up with Hudson after discovering several problems with the DD-214.
Hudson claimed to have been in the Navy and served as a combat medic, receiving two Purple Hearts, but he did not use the correct citation for the award on the falsified DD-214, according to the release. He also claimed to have received a Combat Medic Badge, which is given only in the Army, and a Fleet Marine Force Medal with Marine device, which doesn’t exist.
In addition, the Navy ranking Hudson listed did not align with the listed pay grade, and the typeface of the Social Security number on the form was different from the rest of the document.
Inspectors caught up with Hudson after discovering several problems with the DD-214. Investigators discovered records of Hudson having worked a variety of jobs in New York and Maine between 1967 and 1971 — the same years he claimed to have served in Vietnam.
Hudson faces a potential 10-year sentence, DOJ officials said.
His prosecution comes at a time when VA fraud is on the rise, U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon said in the release.
“This is a particularly awful type of white collar crime,” Lydon said in the release. “Every dollar and every minute of time stolen from the VA is something that is stolen from a veteran.”
Between April 2017 and October 2017, the VA Office of Investigations made 80 arrests and recovered $2.9 million in restitution, fines and penalties related to benefits fraud, according to the release.