NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A North Carolina man was sentenced Monday for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of nearly $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
John Cook, 58, of Marshall, was sentenced to to five months in prison, five months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty in 2021.
Cook enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1985 and suffered an accidental injury while he was on duty, court records showed. He then said an existing eye injury worsened because of the accident.
Cook was later discharged and began receiving VA disability compensation at a rate of over 60%. Over the next 30 years, compensation increased following false claims of increased impairment and unemployability due to ‘severe visual deficit.’
In 2005, the VA declared Cook legally blind and he began receiving compensation at a maximum rate as well as additional benefits, records showed. Incremental increases went from $1,411 to $3,990 by 2016. In total, he received more than $978,000.
Documents also showed that Cook repeatedly passed Department of Motor Vehicle vision-screening tests and during the period had registered more than 30 vehicles, which he routinely drove. Records also showed that Cook had qualified to be a range officer for BB guns and archery for the Boy Scouts.