John Paul Cook enlisted in the United States Army in November of 1985. Six months later, Cook sustained an injury while on duty. Cook complained that as a result of the accident and injuries he sustained, his preexisting eye condition had worsened. Following an evaluation in 1987, Cook was discharged, placed on the retired list, and began receiving VA disability compensation. In 2005, based on Cooks claims of severe visual impairment, the VA declared Cook legally blind, increasing his benefit to maximum rate, along with special compensations and housing grants.
For 30 years, Cook received disability benefits. But for 30 years, Cook was also driving himself in a car to the VA Medical Center, as seen by the federal agents in February of 2017. Upon further investigation, during the last 30 years, Cook had repeatedly passed DMV vision screening tests to renew or obtain a driver’s license in North and South Carolina. During this time, Cook had also purchased and registered over 30 different motor vehicles.
It appears (pardon the pun!) that Cook performed a lot of other activities too. During the time he was receiving benefits for visual impairment, Cook was actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), including serving as a Den Leader and a Cubmaster. He even took BSA courses qualifying him to be a range officer for BB guns and for archery. He was also certified for land navigation, which involves reading maps and using a compass.
On July 18, 2022, Cook was sentenced to 10 months in prison followed by 5 years of home confinement along with having to pay a restitution of $930,762.
Great job by the VA-OIG for their investigation of the case.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article posted by WCNC Charlotte on July 18, 2022.
NC veteran claimed he was blind for 30 years, sentenced to prison
By Nathaniel Puente
Court records show that John Paul Cook made fraudulent disability claims for over 30 years and received nearly $1 million. A man will serve time in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing public money by submitting fraudulent claims for veteran disability services.
John Paul Cook, 58, appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina on Monday where he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Half of the 10-month sentence will be served at home. Cook will also be ordered to pay $930,762.53 to the VA.