Army veteran injured in Iraq bomb blast raised over $ 1 million faking paralysis, prosecutors say

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Federal prosecutors are accusing William Rich, shown here in a gym selfie initially shared on Instagram in 2016, of falsely claiming to be paraplegic and receiving more than $ 1 million in fraudulent compensation. If convicted, Rich faces up to 30 years in prison. ()

An army veteran who was injured in Iraq is accused of fraudulently receiving more than $ 1 million in federal benefits after claiming for more than a decade that he was paralyzed.

William Rich, of Windsor Mill, Maryland, was injured in a 2005 bombing in Baqouba, Iraq. In 2007, he convinced a doctor from the Department of Veterans Affairs that he was therefore paraplegic, achieving a 100% disability rate, authorities said last week.

It wasn’t until 2018 that the VA’s Inspector General opened an investigation after learning of unspecified conduct that conflicted with his level of disability, court records show.

Rich appeared in Baltimore U.S. District Court on October 13 and was ordered released pending trial.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and 10 years for theft of government property, the Justice Department said.

For two years, investigators recorded him performing a series of movements without the aid of a medical device, according to court documents.

The only time they saw him use a wheelchair was when he was going to or returning to VA medical appointments, according to a search warrant request.

The files were unsealed on Oct. 12, after Rich’s arrest, according to a Justice Department statement last week. Authorities say he received more than $ 800,000 from the VA and more than $ 240,000 from the Social Security Administration.

The VA assistance Rich received included money for a vehicle and adaptive gear, which prosecutors say he used to purchase a BMW 645ci.

The two-door luxury sports coupe “is not easily adaptable for use by a person with paraplegia,” IG office agent Brian J. Maddox wrote in an affidavit.

Rich totaled that car, but Maddox asked for warrants to search his other two vehicles and his home, suspecting investigators would find they didn’t have all of the modifications a paraplegic would need.

Rich’s Instagram page reported that he owns a large gym, and two videos on his social media accounts appear to show him standing and lifting weights, court documents show.

A photo he took of himself in a gym mirror was posted on his Instagram page in 2016 with the caption “Lol lift or leave”.

Rich’s discharge documents indicate that he served in the military from September 1998 to February 2007, according to court records. He was injured on August 23, 2005, but his medical records indicate that an MRI the next day showed no spinal cord conflicts or abnormalities, according to the document. said.

Less than two months later, he had started to recover and his legs were no longer paralyzed, according to his medical history documentation, investigators said.

In late 2006, a rehabilitation nurse recorded her ability to perform all essential daily activities, such as using the bathroom and moving around without anyone’s help, investigators said.

Yet in October 2007 a doctor documented him as being paralyzed in both legs and “confined to a wheelchair”, having neither the ability to stand or walk “even with maximum assistance” nor to control. his bowels or bladder, according to court records.

The doctor did not order x-rays to confirm the condition because he “didn’t think it was worth the trauma to handle it,” according to the affidavit citing the records.

The doctor did not have access to Rich’s full medical history along with the earlier report of his recovery, he says.

His 100% permanent disability rate was based on that test, and he received a special monthly paraplegia allowance and caregiver allowance, the Justice Department said.

Rich was assigned a federal public defender, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Chad garland

Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. A native of Illinois who has reported for news organizations in Washington, DC, Arizona, Oregon and California, he is an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and Arizona State University.



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