Veteran who submitted false claims for disability benefits sentenced to prison

GENESEO, Illinois — A veteran has been sentenced to serve eight months in prison after admitting to stealing government money and making false statements about his military service.  According to a statement from the Department of Justice, 68-year-old William R. Jones pleaded guilty to the offenses in August of 2017.

Jones enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1971, according to the department’s statement.  Until his retirement in 2002 Jones served in various Reserve or National Guard components and worked his way up to lieutenant colonel.

In 2003 Jones submitted for disability benefits, claiming he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to his combat service in the Republic of Vietnam.  However, according to the Department of Justice’s statement, “at no time did Jones ever serve in the Southeast Asia or Republic of Vietnam.”

In addition, Jones falsely claimed that he had served as a Special Operations air crewman and was wounded when his gunship was shot down, according to the statement.  He said he had gotten a Bronze Star Medal with V for Valor and a Purple Heart for his service in the Republic of Vietnam.

“The VA denied the claims after checking Jones’ military service records and determining that he was never in RVN,” read the statement.

It didn’t stop there though, the statement explained. Jones continued to try and get benefits, and submitted a false document to the VA that prompted the American Legion and public officials to petition on his behalf, based on the false representations.

“As a result of his false representations, Jones received $71,472 from the VA for combat-related disability,” read the statement.

In 2013 the American Legion submitted a new claim on Jones’ behalf, that included documents of his service, including copies of several false certificates that seemingly backed up false service claims.  That same year Jones submitted documents to Senator Dick Durbin’s office that included false information about his service prompting Durbin to support Jones’ claim for disability benefits.

Despite these claims, the statement said “as Jones well knew, he never served in Vietnam; was never assigned to Special Operations in Vietnam, and, was never shot down…”

U.S. District Judge Sara L. Darrow ordered Jones to pay a $40,000 fine, $71,472 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release after he gets out of prison.