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Idaho man pleads guilty in $1.5m VA disability fraud case

Associated Press / April 8, 2009
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SPOKANE, Wash. - A former Idaho sheriff's deputy who falsely claimed he was paraplegic has pleaded guilty in a $1.5 million disability fraud case that a US attorney said is the largest in Veterans Affairs Department history.

James M. Sebero accepted an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty Monday to charges of wire fraud and making a false statement.

Sebero, a former Bonner County, Idaho, sheriff's marine deputy, agreed to forfeit personal assets and to pay $950,000 in restitution, and could face 20 years and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced July 10.

Sebero, 59, of Laclede, Idaho, served in the Air Force from 1969 to 1975, when he told military personnel he was injured in an accident. He later claimed he had lost the use of his legs.

He retired in 1976 and began receiving disability compensation.

In September 2007, he was using a wheelchair when he went to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Spokane for a checkup and told a doctor he had been unable to work or walk since he left the Air Force.

According to court documents, investigators used a hidden video camera to record Sebero's visit to the doctor. He was arrested after investigators watched him walk into court without assistance the next day in an unrelated case.