An epic usually details the extraordinary feats accomplished by a hero. Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” tells how an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran twisted the details of his ”not so heroic” actions in order to bilk the federal government out of more than $750,000 in benefits he did not deserve.
The story involves a veteran on patrol with the Idaho National guard in northern Iraq. He claimed that his vehicle was hit by a rocket while on patrol, throwing him from his vehicle and knocking him unconscious. As a result, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a brain injury. An official Army report suggests otherwise. (Apparently, he was patrolling the area in which the attack occurred; however, the rocket missed hitting his vehicle by 300 feet and no one was injured in the attack.)
The veteran claimed that he was unable to function and spent much of his time in bed and was unable to work, cook or dress himself. (It appears that he was such a great storyteller that he convinced multiple government agencies to pay him thousands of dollars in disability payments.)
His sister got in on the elaborate benefits fraud scheme and served as his official caretaker, working 40 hours per week to take care of her supposedly bedridden brother. In reality, the man was quite active. He played basketball in a recreational league, coached a high school team, served as a member of an emergency response team that responded to fires and conducted search and rescue missions, had a sport membership at a local country club, was a board member for a hospital foundation, and even unsuccessfully ran for a political office. (Did I mention that an investigator snapped a picture of him mowing his own lawn?)
The 49-year-old veteran pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. (His attorney is seeking one year in prison.)His sentence will be determined following a mental health evaluation by a psychiatrist. His sister also pleaded guilty to her part in the scheme.
He admitted regret that his epic tale had a negative impact on his family. This hero on paper has also negatively impacted the lives of real heroes who truly deserve recognition, honor, respect and government benefits for risking their lives to keep our nation safe.
Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”’He hurt the heroes’: The Iraq War veteran who lied his way to a Purple Heart and $750,000,” published by The Washington Post on August 26, 2016.
The rocket exploded under the Army Humvee and launched the vehicle into the air.
It was August 2005, two years into Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Darryl Lee Wright was on patrol with the Idaho National Guard in Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq.