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14 indicted in alleged plot to defraud VA of benefits

LOUISVILLE — A Veterans Administration employee and 13 other people have been charged with conspiring to steal nearly $2 million in disability claims.

Veterans Affairs service representative Jeffrey Allan McGill and Daniel Ryan Parker, a veteran and officer with the Disabled American Veterans, were among the 14 charged Wednesday by a federal grand jury with conspiring to defraud the United States of $1.9 million through the submission of false veterans disability claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The indictment outlines an alleged scheme for veterans to falsely claim to have suffered from bipolar disorder, hearing loss, frostbite, back injuries and other ailments and disabilities.

The indictment says veterans received lump-sum payments for back pay and then kicked back as much as two-thirds of it to Parker and McGill.

"They're all veterans," U.S. Attorney David Huber said at a news conference Thursday. "That's what's sad about all of this."

Parker, 37, of Crestwood, is free on $25,000 bond. He is also charged with stealing $47,000 from Disabled American Veterans. His attorney, Brian Butler of Louisville, said his client plans to plead not guilty.

"We've been aware of the investigation for months and have cooperated with investigators," Butler said.

A phone message left for McGill, 37, was not immediately returned Thursday morning.

Huber said the remaining defendants, who live in Kentucky, Illinois and West Virginia, would voluntarily surrender at arraignment on Dec. 16 in Louisville.

Huber said Parker and McGill received between $500,000 and $600,000 in kickbacks, with the rest of the stolen money being split among the participants.

According to the indictment, starting in 2003 and continuing until this month, Parker and McGill recruited friends, relatives and acquaintances who were military veterans to file fraudulent claims with the VA.

Parker and McGill then allegedly either altered the veterans' medical records, or created counterfeit medical records, to give the appearance that the veterans had service-related disabilities.

That resulted in the veterans' receiving 100 percent disability for problems such as depression or cancer due to Agent Orange exposure during combat in Vietnam, the indictment said.