NASHVILLE, TN — A Murfreesboro man is facing up to five years in prison after confessing in federal court Friday that he received disability payments from the U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) Department while working at a full-time job.
Edmond Deslatte, 46, a Navy veteran, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a federal agent in connection with an investigation into his disability benefits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Deslatte received about $148,000 in disability payments under false pretenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
In the plea hearing Friday before U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger, Deslatte admitted that he made a false statement during an April 2011 interview with a special agent with the VA’s Office of Inspector General, the federal prosecutors said in the statement. At the time, he “was receiving 100% disability benefit payments from the VA, although he had been working full-time.”
Deslatte said he falsely told the VA agent that a medication prescribed for his medical condition had rendered him disabled and unable to work. He also admitted that he had not been taking the medication, as he had told the agent, the prosecutors said.
Deslatte said in court that he misled the agent in an effort to keep receiving disability payments from the VA. But in May 2014, “a VA physician determined that Deslatte did not suffer from the medical condition that had supposedly rendered him disabled, and the VA subsequently terminated Deslatte’s disability payments,” the prosecutors said.
Along with a possible prison sentence, Deslatte faces a fine of up to $250,000. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Trauger on Jan. 19.