Two veterans, Navy spouse allegedly pretended to be disabled, defrauded VA for $820,000

Abbie Bennett
September 30, 2019 - 11:28 am
VA

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Three people from Maryland -- two of them veterans -- have been indicted on federal charges for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.

Angela Marie Farr, 33, and Michael Vincent Pace, 39, both of Leonardtown, and Mary Francis Biggs, 62, of Lexington Park, were charged with conspiracy and theft of government property, the DoJ announced last week. Farr also was charged with "aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud." 

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur, along with the FBI, VA and Social Security Administration announced the indictments Thursday. 

According to the indictment, Farr organized a conspiracy where she sent false and fraudulent documents to VA claiming that her then-husband, Pace, and her father, were homebound and needed full-time help and disability benefits. 

Farr's mother, Biggs, allegedly conspired with her to file the documents on behalf of her father. When Farr so exaggerated her father's disabilities that the VA determined he couldn't handle his own finances, the VA appointed Biggs his fiduciary -- or a person authorized to act on his behalf and receive his benefits. 

But this wasn't the first time Farr allegedly committed VA fraud.

Farr is a Navy veteran who served from 2005-07. In 2009, Farr received a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent based on allegedly fake documents, which said she experienced post-traumatic stress disorder from an incident in which she said she was raped by a fellow service member. 

But Farr allegedly told local law enforcement she made up the rape.

Farr also allegedly told the VA she experienced a traumatic brain injury during an on-duty car accident, "which was also determined to be a fabrication," according to the indictment. 

Based on the false documents, the VA increased Farr's service-connected disability rating to 100 percent and she received about $390,000 in VA benefits she was not entitled to. 

Farr is further accused of stealing the identity of a VA doctor when she submitted allegedly forged documents to the VA supposedly authored by that doctor. She also allegedly received about $35,000 in Social Security disability insurance benefits for her faked disabilities and has been charged with social security fraud.

Pace is an Army veteran and served from 2001-02, 2005-06 and in the Army National Guard in 2007.

Pace and Farr were married from 2008 until their divorce in 2017, the indictment says.

Pace was rated 100 percent disabled by VA based on allegedly faked medical documents submitted to VA. 

Though he claimed to be profoundly disabled, Pace also allegedly received a caregiver assistance stipend from VA of more than $2,500 each month for allegedly caring for Farr. As a result, Farr received about $274,000 in VA benefits he was not entitled to. 

Biggs, the wife of a Navy veteran who served 1974-997, helped Farr fake her husband's 100-percent disability rating, the indictment says. As a result, Biggs and her husband received about $156,000 in disability benefits they were not entitled to. 

Biggs further allegedly conspired with Farr to hide from VA the fact that her husband was able to work and was actively employed. 

Farr, Pace and Bigg's husband all allegedly claimed to be wheelchair-bound and require in-home nursing for everyday tasks. But during that same time, the indictment says Farr operated a social media marketing company in Maryland, Pace raised three children and regularly exercised at a CrossFit gym and Bigg's husband was a division head at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Maryland. 

If convicted, Farr faces a mandatory minimum two years in federal prison and a maximum 10 years. Biggs and Pace face a maximum sentence of 10 years. 

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Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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