Army Veteran Faked Paralysis to Fraudulently Receive Nearly $1M in Disability Benefits: Feds

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William Rich, undated. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Justice Department.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Fraudulent Claims: An Army veteran, William Rich, allegedly faked paralysis to unlawfully receive over $1 million in disability benefits.
  2. Substantial Evidence: Surveillance footage and social media activity contradicted Rich’s claims, showing him performing activities inconsistent with paralysis.
  3. Legal Consequences: Rich faces significant prison time if convicted, with charges of wire fraud and theft of government property.

I’m Samuel Lopez, bringing you an in-depth analysis of a case that has shaken the veteran community and highlighted serious issues within the disability benefits system.

Army Veteran Faked Paralysis to Fraudulently Receive Nearly $1M in Disability Benefits: Feds

[Windsor Mill, Maryland] – “People who play roles will eventually forget their lines.” This compelling remark by Assistant U.S. Attorney Collen McGuinn aptly sets the stage for the curious case of William Rich, a U.S. Army veteran from Windsor Mill, Maryland, who is accused of feigning paraplegia to collect nearly $1 million in disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

According to the Justice Department, Rich, 41, falsely claimed paralysis in his lower extremities following an injury from a bomb explosion in Baqubah, Iraq, in 2005. Initially, he reported being 100% disabled, asserting that he had lost the use of his legs due to the incident. Despite undergoing significant recovery and being declared no longer paralyzed by 2006, Rich continued to receive substantial benefits by maintaining his false claims.

The Allegations and Evidence

Prosecutors allege that Rich exploited the VA disability compensation system, receiving more than $760,000 in VA benefits and an additional $240,000 in SSA Disability Insurance Benefits. These funds included special allowances for a caregiver and grants for adaptive equipment, which Rich allegedly used to purchase a luxury BMW sports coupe instead of the intended specially adapted vehicle.

In 2018, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) began investigating Rich after receiving reports of suspicious activities inconsistent with his claimed paralysis. Over two years, special agents conducted surveillance and documented Rich engaging in activities such as walking, climbing stairs, entering and exiting vehicles, and lifting heavy items—all without a wheelchair or any visible limitations. Furthermore, social media posts showed Rich standing and exercising, further undermining his claims.

Legal Proceedings

Rich was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud and up to 10 years for theft of government property. During his initial court appearance, Rich was released pending trial, with his defense attorney arguing that Rich is an innocent patriot who has been wrongfully accused.

My Perspective

“This case underscores the importance of integrity and accountability, particularly within systems designed to support those who have served our nation. It is crucial that we thoroughly investigate such allegations to uphold the trust and support for genuine veterans in need.”

Ethical Reporting and Balanced Perspective

As a journalist dedicated to ethical reporting, I ensure this article is based on verified information and provides a balanced perspective on the allegations against Mr. Rich. The gravity of the charges and the evidence presented by both sides underscore the complexities involved in this case.

For further updates and detailed analysis, visit my profile: Samuel Lopez – USA Herald.