Assistant United States Attorney Dylan M. Asti (619) 546-7621 and Valerie H. Chu (619) 546-6750
News Release Summary – December 6, 2021
SAN DIEGO – Anthony Medrano, a US Marine Corps veteran and former VA employee, was sentenced in federal court today to eight months in prison for VA fraud out of more than $183,000.
According to his plea agreement, Medrano admitted that between approximately November 2015 and May 2020, he filed suits with the VA in which he claimed to be disabled so that he could obtain caregiver benefits for his wife, when he was already able—physically and even Participate in fitness challenges and training youth athletes.
Medrano implemented this scheme while working for the VA Department of Veterans Benefits as a Veterans Service Representative, a position in which he explained benefit programs and eligibility criteria to veterans applying for VA benefits. As a representative, Medrano’s responsibilities included adjudicating claims, authorizing payments, and entering data needed to create the award letter and notification to the veteran. After the Veterans Benefits Administration authorizes the payment, the Veterans Affairs Administration, a separate branch of Veterans Affairs, administers the payments for disabled veterans who require significant care and need help paying for that care. Using knowledge gained from his job at VA, Medrano stole $183,034.38 from VA through a series of lies.
According to court documents, Medrano first lied during a physician evaluation that was conducted to determine eligibility in Caregiver Support. Medrano lied about needing high-level help for daily activities (for example, dressing and undressing, personal hygiene, and personal care), and has lied about needing high-level help with other activities (for examplePlanning and organization, recent memory, self-organization). Medrano deceived the VA into giving him assistance that paid his primary caregiver — his wife — the equivalent of 40 hours a week for a full-time home health aide.
Medrano’s lies persisted for years until the money kept flowing. Medrano told VA representatives that he has been unemployed since 2012 and unable to work; The caregiver was “doing everything” for him, including washing his back while in the shower. He said he could not stand for more than 5-10 minutes; He couldn’t lift more than 20 pounds. But while Medrano was making these statements, he said I was works, is I was wash his back, and I was You often lift weights of more than 20 pounds during your workout.
For example, immediately after his active service term in the United States Marine Corps, Medrano was fully employed in the VA from March 2013 through February 19, 2021. Medrano walked, ran, and coached youth sports teams while stating that he could not stand. More than 5-10 minutes. And just a few weeks after declaring he couldn’t lift more than 20 pounds, Medrano posted videos of himself on Facebook taking part in a “press-up challenge,” doing a 25-pound push-up on his back.
In court, Attorney General Dylan M. Asti notes that because of his position, Medrano knew the internal procedures for VA approval requirements for disability benefits and used this inside information to exploit the VA system and steal $183,000 from VA and needy disabled veterans from these benefits programs.
“This defendant used his position to manipulate the system at the expense of those with legitimate claims and taxpayers in general,” Acting US Attorney Randy Grossman said. “It is not only outrageous when an undeserving person claims a disability. It is also a crime. Unfortunately for this accused, he will be imprisoned.” Grossman thanked the prosecutors and the OIG’s Department of Veterans Affairs for their excellent work on this case.
“Our nation’s veterans with service disabilities receive a variety of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, some veterans are misrepresenting their status to obtain a visa,” said Special Agent Responsible Rebeccalin Staples of the Office of Veterans Affairs in the Western Field Office of the Inspector General. benefits they do not deserve.” “VA OIG remains committed to pursuing these issues seriously in an effort to preserve the integrity of VA programs.”
To report fraud in the VA program, call the VA-OIG hotline at 1-800-488-8244 or visit https://www.va.gov/oig/hotline/.
Defendant Case No. 21cr01071-BAS
Anthony Medrano Age: 42 Spring Valley, California
Government Property Theft – Title 18, USC, Section 641
Maximum penalty: ten years in prison and a fine of $500,000
United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General