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Sentence handed down on Milan man who received veterans’ benefits in dead mother’s name

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ROCK ISLAND — A former employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Rock Island Arsenal was sentenced in federal court Thursday to one year for illegally receiving Veterans Administration benefits on behalf of his adoptive mother who died in 2003.

Peter W. Cooper, 59, of Milan pleaded guilty to receiving funds from the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program that were supposed to be paid to his adoptive mother based on her being a surviving spouse of a previously active-duty husband.

In 2014, by matching VA records with Social Security death records, the VA Office of Inspector General became aware that Cooper’s mother had died in 2003 but the payments had continued and were then continuing.  Payments were being deposited monthly in a bank account under the name of Cooper and his deceased mother.  The VA OIG’s investigation revealed that Cooper had been withdrawing the money monthly and spending it or transferring it to other accounts.  Investigators determined that Cooper had received and spent $178,789 in DIC funds to which he was not entitled.

Cooper has been ordered to report to prison on Oct. 17 to begin his sentence. He was also ordered to pay the entire $178,789 back in restitution.