JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Florida veteran is sentenced to federal prison for lying for years about being blind and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sixty-year-old Veronica Dale Hahn of Bonifay, Florida, received nearly $395,000 from VA for 100 percent service-connected blindness in both eyes. Over 15 years -- from 2001 to 2016 -- the Army veteran told doctors she was almost completely blind.
However, within a year of receiving her disability benefits for loss of vision, investigators say Hahn got driver’s licenses with no vision restrictions in New Mexico, Alabama, and Florida -- passing vision exams in all three states with at least 20/40 vision.
During this time, Hahn was observed driving her personal vehicle on numerous occasions and she worked full time as a case manager and transition counselor at several state correctional facilities. All of these activities required normal eyesight to perform her duties.
“Instead of providing benefits and assistance to worthy veterans who are justifiably in need, significant resources from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs were diverted to uncover an extensive and persistent fraud by Ms. Hahn, who repeatedly gave dishonest information and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars to which she was not entitled," said Christopher Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. This case sends the message that you cannot make false disability claims and just walk away from such a crime.”
On the second day of Hahn's trial, she pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. She has now been sentenced to nine months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $394,800.85.
“VA Disability Compensation Benefits are intended to provide for veterans with injuries or diseases related to their military service. Because of the successful investigative and prosecutive efforts of the VA OIG and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Veronica Hahn’s greed and deception will not go unchecked,” said Special Agent in Charge Monty Stokes, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General – Southeast Field Office.