TAMPA, Fla. — One Tampa veteran is heading to prison after he was found guilty of defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The Department of Justice says 51-year-old Barry Hoover, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, exaggerated the extent of his visual impairment in order to get approximately $429,568.09 in VA disability benefits that he wasn't entitled to.
He did this by manipulating the results of his peripheral vision tests to show that he had a five-degree visual field and was legally blind, according to authorities. Prosecutors say Hoover also made false statements about his ability to drive and perform other daily tasks without help.
But despite his claims, authorities say Hoover was caught on camera driving a car, motorcycle, ATV and boat. He was also spotted moving his lawn, using a chain saw, hunting, fishing, scuba diving and performing other tasks like shopping without assistance, the DOJ adds.
During Hoover's trial, experts testified that someone with a five-degree visual field would not be able to drive and would "be reliant on a white cane to function in public."
Hoover was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution for theft of government funds.
“Today’s sentence sends a clear message that veterans who defraud the VA by exaggerating their disabilities will be held accountable,” said David Spilker special agent in charge of the VA's Office of Inspector General’s Southeast Field Office. “VA’s disability programs are established to justly compensate deserving veterans and the VA OIG is committed to investigating those who would exploit these programs.”