St. Louis County Man Admits Stealing Veterans Administration Disability Benefits

Jul 26, 2023

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Missouri:

ST. LOUIS – A man from St. Louis County, Missouri on Tuesday admitted stealing $106,245 in Veterans Administration disability benefits by fraudulently claiming various medical conditions.

Charles Adams, 50, of Berkeley, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey to theft of government funds.

Adams underwent multiple medical evaluations after he applied for increased disability benefits due to service-connected degenerative disc disease with degenerative arthritis. In April 2017, he reported difficulty getting out of bed some mornings and an inability to stand for extended lengths of time. A Veterans Administration examiner noted that Adams walked slowly and with a marked limp. At a November 2017 back examination, Adams demonstrated severe limitations in his range of motion, rotation, and other use of his back. However, soon after the examination and again in March 2018, Adams performed various strenuous exercises with high levels of resistance, including deep squats, leg presses with over 800 pounds of resistance, rope pulldowns, and other high intensity exercises or movements that were inconsistent with the level of back limitations he demonstrated at his examinations, his plea agreement says.

Videos posted to Instagram, under the username @tlf_trainer, show Adams lifting heavy weights and squatting, in late 2017 and March 2018. The videos contradict Defendant’s claims that he was limited in his abilities to lift, squat, bend, stand, walk and sit, his plea agreement says.

Adams filed for Veterans Administration individual unemployability benefits in February 2018. Included in his application was a statement from a doctor stating that he was very limited in movements including bending, stooping, twisting, lifting more than 25 pounds above shoulder height, kneeling, running, jumping and standing.

Adams also applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in August of 2019 after a January 2017 application was rejected. In his second application, Adams represented that his medical conditions affected his abilities to lift, squat, bend, stand, walk, and sit. He never reported going to Club Fitness for workouts, however. Adams checked into Club Fitness the day before a July 7, 2020 hearing for his second disability application, later on the same day as his hearing and the day after.

Adams continued to work out at Club Fitness in 2020 and 2021. In June 2021, Defendant attended a medical review for the VA. Investigators watched as Adams walked normally and lifted and carried bags of trash before going to his examination. When he arrived for the examination, he used a cane to walk and did so at a much slower pace.

Adams is scheduled to be sentenced October 25. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. He will also be ordered to repay the money.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Klocke is prosecuting the case.

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