CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A Lowcountry man has pled guilty in federal court for defrauding the VA by falsely claiming to be a military veteran of combat in Vietnam.

Keith R. Hudson, 70, of Charleston received $197,237 in benefits from the VA in Charleston, represented that he was in the Navy and saw combat as a medic, suffering wounds and other trauma, received two purple hearts, and claimed he served from August 1, 1967 through October 31, 1967, according to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Crick. 

An investigation showed that 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 report states.

Officials added, that it did not list the proper citation for a Purple Heart either. The form also states that Hudson received the Fleet Marine Force Medal with Marine Device, there is no such medal, Crick stated.

Hudson never was in the military, according to the report.  The investigation conclusively showed that there were no records in the National Personnel Records Center in St Louis, Missouri for him from any branch of service. 

United States Attorney Lydon said, “This is a particularly awful type of white collar crime.  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.  Every dollar and every minute of time stolen from the VA is something that is stolen from a veteran. VA fraud is on the increase and so we are grateful for the work of the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General for their investigative work on the case.”

The investigation also showed that he had previously been prosecuted for the same scheme using the same form in 2005 in Connecticut, where he had been placed in a pretrial diversionary program, Crick said.

If convicted, Hudson faces up to 10 years in prison.