Missouri man gets prison term for military benefits fraud

Jail Time

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man who admits he passed himself off as a Navy veteran and fraudulently received more than $234,000 in benefits has been sentenced to four years and three months in federal prison.

Sixty-three-year-old Eric D. Smith of Independence also was ordered Thursday in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, to repay $234,461. That restitution includes payments to additional agencies victimized by Smith when he engaged in similar fraud in Maryland, Georgia, and Florida.

Smith pleaded guilty in February in Missouri to one count each of violating the False Claims Act and of student loan fraud.

He admitted that he assumed the identity of a Navy veteran from October 2012 through April 2014, along the way fraudulently obtaining a Veterans Affairs identification card and VA health care benefits.