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Identity theft suspect indicted for over $825,000 in VA fraud

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(The Center Square) – A former Grant County resident faces federal charges for allegedly bilking over $825,000 from the Veterans Administration by using the stolen identity of a now-deceased military veteran.

Raymond Kenneth Musgrove, no age listed, was arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court when he pled not guilty to felony charges of aggravated identity theft, theft of government funds, wire fraud, and false representation of a Social Security number. A trial date was not set at the time.

According to a grand jury indictment, Musgrove fraudulently posed as another individual – a real person and military veteran whom authorities identified by the initials J.M.C. – dating back to 1997 and continuing through September 2023. In that time, Musgrove allegedly collected over $825,000 in benefit payments plus healthcare services from the Veterans Administration.

Musgrove, who served in the U.S. Navy for several years, allegedly claimed he had seen combat in Vietnam and subsequently suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. But federal authorities say there is no indication that Musgrove actually served in Vietnam. In contrast, J.M.C. served two years each in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and was awarded the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat “V” for his service in Vietnam, the indictment states.

The indictment said the real J.M.C. died in 2018 in Oklahoma, which provided proof of his death to the Social Security Administration, which terminated his retirement benefits. The Veterans Benefits Administration then ended its payments shortly afterward, but Musgrove allegedly contacted and convinced the administration that he was a victim of identity theft and should continue to receive compensation in J.M.C.’s name.

After noting discrepancies, the case was investigated by the Offices of Inspector General of both the Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration and is now being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frieda K. Zimmerman.

“Military veterans have given selfless service to this country. Schemes to steal funds set aside to support them are an insult to their sacrifices,” said Vanessa R. Waldref, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, in a news release Monday.

“My office is committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure that federal government programs and missions are protected from fraudulent actions and will hold fraudsters accountable when they seek government funds in order to line their own pockets,” said Waldref.

Musgrove, who lived in the central Washington communities of Ephrata and Moses Lake, was initially arrested on Feb. 14 in Eugene, Oregon, but later released from custody and appeared on his own at Friday’s arraignment. Federal prosecutors did not seek to keep Musgrove in custody pending trial, said Rob Curry, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane.

If convicted, the fraud charges carry sentences of up to 20 years in federal prison plus restitution for the VA payments.