Retired Master Sergeant Mack Cole Jr. has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for health care fraud according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Texas.
It all started when Mr. Cole injured his back during a training accident before he deployed with the Kansas Army National Guard to Kosovo in 2004. In 2006 Cole retired from the military and began receiving monthly benefits for being a disabled Veteran. It wasn’t until 2010 when he began telling his VA doctors that he no longer had the “ability to walk” and “dreams of walking again.” Five months later, he claimed he “no longer walked due to fear of further impairment” and claimed he hadn’t walked since January of 2011.
According to the Veterans Affairs and the federal indictment, in October 2011 Cole claimed he was no longer able to raise his leg and was not walking around at home. In September 2012, Cole claimed he could not stand nor walk without help since he “could no longer move his feet.” In November 2013, three months before he was indicted by a federal grand jury, Cole was pictured shaking hands with his hero, Herschel Walker, during an event at Fort Sam Houston’s Warrior and Family Support Center.
In June 2017, a federal jury convicted Cole on four counts of health care fraud and two counts of making false statements in a matter involving a health care benefit program, according to the Justice Department. The decision came easy after the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General obtained footage in stark contrast to statements Cole had made to VA doctors to gain a higher VA disability rating. In the footage obtained by the VA Office of Inspector General, Cole was shown standing with a walking cane before bending down to move a motorized scooter off a lift attached to his vehicle. Other video evidence showed Cole pushing a lawn mower up hill in his front yard and even showed him bending down to toss debris out of his way.
In addition to his 27 month prison term, Cole has been ordered by the court to pay more than $375,000 in restitution to the Veterans Benefits Administration plus an additional $60,000 to the Veterans Health Administration. Once released, Cole will be placed on supervised parole for three years.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report, the VA has opened 111 health care fraud cases in the first six months of the year and have obtained over $125 million in court ordered fines and restitution.