An Army veteran lied about being paralyzed to get over $1 million in disability benefits and used some of the money to buy a BMW, feds say

A logo of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is seen on Friday, September 8, 2017, at the Department of Veterans Affairs office in Washington, D.C.
A logo of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is seen on Friday, September 8, 2017, at the Department of Veterans Affairs office in Washington, D.C. Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • William Rich, of Maryland, was charged last week with wire fraud and theft of government property.
  • Prosecutors say the Army veteran lied about being paralyzed for more than a decade.
  • Prosecutors say he received over $US1 ($AU1) million in disability benefits.

An Army veteran has been accused of faking paralysis to claim more than $US1 ($AU1) million in government disability benefits over more than a decade.

William Rich, of Windsor Hill, Maryland, was charged last week with wire fraud and theft of government property, the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland said in a press release.

Rich, 41, was in the Army from September 1998 and February 2007.

Prosecutors say he was injured in Baqubah, Iraq, 2005, and while he briefly received disability following the incident, an MRI found he could still move his lower extremities.

In 2007, however, a doctor determined he was paralyzed without examining prior test results, and the Rich was granted 100% disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs, prosecutors say.

He went on to receive disability benefits from the VA for more than a decade, and used part of the more than $US1 ($AU1) million in funds he received to buy a BMW 645Ci luxury sports convertible, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say the VA Office audited claims that Rich wasn’t actually disabled in 2018.

According to court documents, investigators witnessed Rich walk up and down stairs, lift and carry items, and walk.

Between 2019 and 2021, investigators also saw Rich put his wheelchair in the trunk of his car before driving himself to doctor’s appointments.

Rich was arrested on October 13.

If convicted, Rich faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and 10 years in prison for theft of government property.