Snoqualmie, Washington – A former Idaho Army National Guard Soldier has been in indicted for multiple counts of wire fraud and mail fraud, and making false statements in connection with an extensive scheme to fraudulently obtain federal and state benefits, announced Acting United States Attorney Annette L. Hayes.
According to the indictment, Wright made a variety of false claims in his scheme to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, and the Washington State Department of Employment Security. False statements also were made to the Department of Commerce, the Office of Personnel Management, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and the U.S. Army.
The nine count indictment charges schemes to commit both wire fraud and mail fraud, making false statements to the Army, and making a false statement to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
At the height of the fraud, Wright and his sister were receiving $10,341 a month in undeserved government benefits, according to the indictment. They did so while Wright worked, coached basketball and ran for public office. Wright claimed to have suffered traumatic brain injury during an Aug. 30, 2005, rocket attack while he was serving in Iraq as a lieutenant with the Idaho National Guard. Wright ultimately received a Combat Action Badge, and a Purple Heart. Wright included a photograph of a Humvee destroyed in another attack, which he claimed was his vehicle, according to the indictment. Years passed before Wright’s lobbying won out; he was awarded a Purple Heart in March 2011.
In truth, Wright was not injured in the attack, which didn’t damage any property or cause casualties, prosecutors claim. Nonetheless, Wright was awarded a host of benefits meant to assist wounded veterans and disabled Americans. “Wright falsely claimed that his alleged combat related injuries caused a range of physical limitations to include, being ‘bedridden,’ unable to function in public, easily confused, unable to tie his shoes, in need of a full-time caregiver in his home,” prosecutors claimed to the grand jury. Wright hired his sister, Karen Bevens, as his caretaker; Bevens, a 43-year-old Duvall resident, now faces a single fraud count.
While claiming to be entirely unable to work, Wright was also collecting unemployment benefits from Washington state, prosecutors said in court papers. To receive unemployment payments, Wright is alleged to have faked job applications. In truth, Wright was “seemingly unencumbered by any disability or infirmity,” according to the indictment. He coached high school basketball, chaired the city of Snoqualmie planning commission, served in community organizations and belonged to a country club.
Prosecutors alleged that the scheme dated to 2005, when there was a small explosion about 100 yards from where Wright and other soldiers were standing. Days later, Wright requested that he be awarded a “combat action badge,” though he noted in his written account that there was no damage or casualties from the blast.
During the next several months, he continued to press for the badge — changing the story to say that he had come under enemy rocket attack, prosecutors said. “Darryl Lee Wright falsely stated that he was ‘violently thrown and knocked unconscious from the percussion of the rockets’ impact,’ ” the indictment said.
In response to a request for comment, Wright wrote Jan. 30, “Yesterday, we contested all charges.” He referred additional questions to his attorney, Chris Black. If Wright is found guilty, he could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000. Wright is listed as Chief Development Officer of Trefoil Consulting in the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce business directory.
His trial is scheduled for March 31, said Emily Langlie, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
So again we are presented with another case of Stolen Valor where it has cost the taxpayer’s almost a quarter of a million dollars in fraudulent benefits. This was netting them more money per month than most people make who work full-time jobs, but we hear people saying Stolen Valor is a victimless crime. The victims here are not only the taxpayers, but Veterans that actually need these benefits and can’t get them!
We will keep you updated on the trial, and how it proceeds. We are also working on getting his records and a copy of the complete indictment.