A Charleston man collected nearly $200,000 in VA benefits over the past few years while listed as a Navy medic who received two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam.
But Keith R. Hudson, 70, was never in the military, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina said Wednesday.
“This is a particularly awful type of white collar crime,” U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon said in a news release. “Veteran health benefits are for those who served our nation in the military. The VA has limited numbers of physicians and resources. There is not much to spare.”
Hudson pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding the VA of $197,237. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Hudson in 2015 falsified a report of separation of active duty – called a DD-214 – on which he “represented that he was in the Navy and saw combat as a medic, suffering wounds and other trauma,” according the release. He said he received two Purple Hearts over the course of his service, from 1967-1971.
But an investigation revealed several problems with the report, including a ranking that did not match his listed pay grade. The typeset of Hudson’s Social Security number didn’t match the rest of the document, according to the release.
“In the awards section, it stated that he received a Combat Medic Badge. However, this is an award which is only given for service in the United States Army,” the release said. “And the form stated Mr. Hudson received the Fleet Marine Force Medal with Marine Device. There is no such medal.”
The investigation found that Hudson had not served in the military, while also showing he held a variety of jobs in New York and Maine at the time he claimed to see combat in Vietnam.
Investigators also found Hudson was prosecuted for the same scheme in Connecticut in 2005, and entered the pretrial diversion program.