Fake Wounded Marine Who Got VA Benefits Sentenced to Over One Year in Prison

            A federal judge sentenced James Stiles, 43, of Orange County man who falsely held himself out to be a United States Marine Corps combat veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient to fraudulently obtain veterans’ health care and housing benefits 16 months in federal prison. Stiles also has to pay back $167,234 in restitution for his health care fraud conviction. 

            In November 2012, Stiles applied for health care benefits through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by submitting and signing a fraudulent application. On the form, Stiles falsely claimed that he had served in the Marine Corps from 1995 to 2005, and that he was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in combat. Once he was enrolled in the VA’s health care benefit program, Stiles scheduled medical appointments at will. From December 2012 to March 2016, Stiles received 692 outpatient treatments, primarily at the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in Long Beach.

            Stiles admitted in his plea agreement that in December 2015 he also applied for housing benefits intended for homeless veterans, and he submitted forms where he falsely claims to be the recipient of two Purple Hearts. As a result of this application, Stiles was accepted into the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing program. The Orange County Housing Authority, HUD’s local housing partner in Orange County automatically provided his landlord with vouchers on Stiles’s behalf each month beginning in February 2016. Also, in February 2016, Stiles submitted a form to the VA for the purpose of obtaining disability benefits in which he falsely claimed that he was a veteran.

Stiles’s scheme to defraud ended in April 2016 when the VA confronted him, and he admitted he had never served in the U.S. military and was not entitled to receive VA benefits.  In a March 2016 audio recording where Stiles falsely told a religious outreach group for veterans “that he was a captain in the Marine Corps, that he served for 10 years, that he was simultaneously shot in the head by a 5-year-old ‘kid’ and in the back by a sniper, that he was subsequently in a coma for approximately two years, and that he still lives with the bullet in his head.”

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