Today a federal jury convicted a Dripping Springs woman for defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) of over $300,000.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Josephine Casandra Perez-Gorda, 39, defrauded the VA and SSA by overstating the severity and extent of her spouse’s disability from October 2011 through August 2017. Mr. Perez, now deceased, was an Army veteran who participated in the fraud. The Perezes claimed Mr. Perez was paralyzed from the waist down from an injury he suffered while on active duty. The ruse included applying for and receiving a specially equipped vehicle, a specially adapted home and additional compensation based on his disability rating.
The investigation began after KENS5 ran a news story titled, “Homes for Our Troops Questions Veteran’s Paralysis after Video.” The news story involved a specially adapted house in Dripping Springs that was gifted to the Perezes by the non-profit foundation Homes for Our Troops in December 2013. Although Mrs. Perez claimed her husband was “paralyzed from the belly button down,” Mr. Perez was seen walking around the neighborhood and playing basketball. VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) agents videotaped Mr. Perez walking around without assistance.
Mrs. Perez furthered the scheme by completing all the VA and SSA paperwork claiming Mr. Perez was paralyzed in both legs.
Mrs. Perez was found guilty of 11 counts of wire fraud; one count of mail fraud; one count of health care fraud; three counts of false statements related to a health care matter; one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud; and one count of theft of government funds. Sentencing is set for December 20, 2022. She faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the wire fraud and mail fraud charges; up to 10 years in prison on each of the health care fraud charges and the theft of government funds charge; and up to five years in prison on each of the false statements related to a health care matter.
In 2015, KENS-5 News ran an investigative story on the Perezes, clearly showing Justin Perez-Gorda walking around and picking up wood with no trouble after claiming to be paralyzed from the belly button down. Justin Perez-Gorda, 33, died Jan. 29, 2022 while being treated at a medical center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. Perez-Gorda was awaiting trial in San Antonio for health care fraud.