A U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Spring Valley who falsely claimed he was disabled and defrauded the Department of Veterans Affairs out of more than $183,000 was sentenced Monday to eight months in custody.
Anthony Medrano, 42, submitted fraudulent claims to the Veterans Administration over the course of several years, with aims of obtaining caregiver benefits for his wife, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Medrano alleged he needed assistance with daily activities, claiming he could not stand for more than 10 minutes at a time and needed assistance with bathing.
In reality, prosecutors say Medrano was able-bodied, taking part in fitness challenges and coaching youth sports.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Medrano learned how to bilk the system through his job as a veterans service representative in the VA's Veterans Benefits Administration, which authorizes payments for disabled veterans who need "substantial caregiving" and financial assistance to pay for their care.
In his claims, Medrano stated he had been unemployed since 2012, though prosecutors allege he was employed by the VA from 2013 until February 2021. He also claimed he could not lift more than 20 pounds, but according to the prosecution's sentencing memorandum, Medrano posted videos of himself on Facebook doing pushups with a 25-pound weight on his back.
"This defendant used his position to game the system at the expense of those with legitimate claims and taxpayers in general," said acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman.
"It's not only outrageous when an undeserving person claims a disability. It's also a crime. And unfortunately for this defendant, he is going to jail."
Earlier this year in San Diego federal court, Medrano pleaded guilty in to a count of theft of government property.
Medrano's wife was also charged with theft of government property, pleaded guilty, and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, court records show.