HARTFORD — A state man was sentenced to six months in prison for stealing benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to federal authorities.
John Deppert, 64, also was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to two years of supervised release, according to a release from the office of Connecticut U.S. Attorney John H. Durham.
Federal officials said Deppert’s sister received disability compensation benefits from the VA through a direct deposit to her bank account and after she died in January 2015, Deppert had access to her bank account, which continued to receive regular deposits of VA benefits, the release said, citing court documents and statements made in court.
The VA learned in Sept. 2017 that Deppert’s sister had died and stopped the benefits payments, but in Oct. 2017, Deppert called the VA and, “posing as his sister, explained that ‘she’ was not deceased,” the release noted. The VA then began again to send benefits payments to the bank account, and issued a back payment of benefits, the release said.
However, when the VA again identified that Deppert’s sister had died, a VA employee in April 2018 called the telephone number it had for Deppert’s sister and, again posing as his sister, Deppert answered the call, provided his sister’s date of birth and social security number, and stated that “she” was alive, the release said.
Deppert, still posing as his sister, left a message in May 2018 on a VA employee’s voicemail system asking that all future contact be by fax or email, the release said. He then faxed a change of address form to the VA, with a coversheet that said: “I am alive and living in Woodstock Valley, CT!” Deppert signed his sister’s name on the coversheet, the release said.
Deppert stole $77,292; Bryant ordered Deppert to pay full restitution. Deppert pleaded guilty on April 4 to one count of theft of government property.
Deppert is free on a $50,000 bond and is required to report to prison on October 23, the release said.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah P. Karwan.