Man Who Pretended to be His Dead Sister to Steal VA Benefits is Sentenced to Prison

A man who had pretended to be his dead sister in order to steal VA benefits has been sentenced to prison.

A man who had posed as his dead sister to steal benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs was sentenced to six months in prison this week. The prison sentence is to be followed by two years of supervised release.

John Deppert, 64, of Woodstock, CT was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford.

According to court documents, Deppert’s sister received disability compensation benefits from the VA through a direct deposit to her bank account. After she died in January 2015, he had access to his sister’s 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, and again, posing as his sister, Deppert answered the call, provided his sister’s date of birth and social security number, and stated that “she” was alive.

In May 2018, Deppert left a message on a VA employee’s voicemail system posing as his sister 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.

All told, Deppert made away with $77,292 in benefits and was ordered to pay full restitution as part of his sentencing. He had previously pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property on April 4, 2019.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.