Man Pretends to Be His Dead Sister to Steal VA Benefits

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By on April 9, 2019 in Court Cases with 0 Comments

Wooden judge's gavel sitting on a spread of $100 bills next to a pair of handcuffs on a wooden surface

A Connecticut man recently pleaded guilty to posing as his dead sister in order to steal benefits payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs according to an announcement from the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.

John Deppert, 64, of Woodstock pleaded guilty last week in Hartford federal court to one count of theft of government property related to a scheme to steal the benefits.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Deppert’s sister received disability compensation benefits from the VA through a direct deposit to her bank account. After she died in January 2015, Deppert had access to her bank account, which continued to receive regular deposits of VA benefits.

In September 2017, the VA identified that Deppert’s sister had died and terminated the benefits payments. In October 2017, Deppert called the VA and, posing as his sister, explained that “she” was not deceased. As a result, the VA reinitiated the benefits payments to the bank account, and also issued a back payment of benefits.

In April 2018, after the VA again identified that Deppert’s sister had died, a VA employee contacted the telephone number it had for Deppert’s sister. Deppert, again posing as his sister, answered the call, provided his sister’s date of birth and social security number, and stated that “she” was alive.

In May 2018, Deppert, posing as his sister, left a message on a VA employee’s voicemail system requesting that all future contact be by fax or email. He subsequently sent a fax with a change of address form attached to the VA. The coversheet for the fax stated: “I am alive and living in Woodstock Valley, CT!” Deppert signed his sister’s name on the coversheet.

The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut reported that in total, Deppert stole $77,292 using this scheme.

Deppert is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on July 24, 2019, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. He is released on a $50,000 bond pending sentencing.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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