MARSHALL, N.C. (WJZY) – A North Carolina man was sentenced on Monday for defrauding the VA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina announced.
58-year-old Marshall resident John Cook will serve 5 months in prison, 5 months of home confinement, and three years of supervised release after being convicted of defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Cook enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1985 and suffered an accidental injury while he was on duty, court records showed. He then said an existing eye injury worsened due to the accident. Cook was later discharged and began receiving VA disability compensation at a rate of over 60%. Over the next 30 years, compensation increased following false claims of increased impairment and unemployability due to ‘severe visual deficit.’
In 2005, the VA declared Cook legally blind and he began receiving compensation at a max rate as well as additional benefits, records showed. Incremental increases went from $1,411 to $3,990 by 2016.
In total, he received over $978,000.
Documents also showed Cook repeatedly passed DMV vision screening tests and during the period had registered over 30 vehicles, which Cook routinely drove. Records also showed Cook had qualified to be a range officer for BB guns and archery for the Boy Scouts.
Cook pled guilty in 2021 and was sentenced on Monday.