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Outrage: Scamming the VA

Dean Toth, 37, has normal hearing levels, according to four different government-administered tests. Yet somehow the former Marine pilot qualified for 100 percent disability from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) because of hearing loss.

Toth, of Crestwood, Ky., is one of 13 veterans named in a federal indictment released in Kentucky in November claiming fraud against the VA.

At the center of the alleged scheme are Daniel Parker, 37, also of Crestwood, who worked for Disabled American Veterans, and Jeffrey McGill, 37, of LaGrange, Ky., a VA employee responsible for reviewing disability claims. The charges allege that Parker and McGill got friends and family members who are military veterans to submit false disability claims. The charges also allege that the two altered or falsified medical documents to back up the applications.

The payout for the alleged fraud was huge—nearly $1.9 million. According to court documents, Toth alone received $93,240 in back payment for disability claims from the time of his initial application in 2004, and a $2,500 monthly check from the VA for life. All the while, he continued to work as a pilot for Southwest Airlines.

Meanwhile, Parker and McGill got kickbacks of up to $60,000 for each case from the veterans they assisted in the scam, according to the indictment

“It was a total shock to us,” says Chris Clay, general counsel for Disabled American Veterans. Parker worked for the organization for more than a decade but was terminated when the investigation came to light last spring.

“I have been around Disabled American Veterans since 1986, and this is the first time I have seen anything like this. This is not an everyday occurrence,” Clay says.

Neither Parker nor McGill has entered pleas in the case yet, and attorneys for the two did not return phone calls requesting comment.

Michelle Diament is a writer in Memphis, Tenn.

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