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Fake war hero gets prison for collecting veteran benefits

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Cody Joslin, 32, of Maui, told the U.S. Veterans Administration that he suffered post-traumatic stress and hearing loss from injuries he sustained while on multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle, from close-quarters knife fights with the enemy and from seeing his friends die in combat.

The VA, in turn, granted Joslin disability benefits from May 2013 to June last year when the agency learned that all of Joslin’s claims were false. Joslin served less than nine months in the Army, never deployed overseas and was never in combat.

U.S. District Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright sentenced Joslin to 18 months in prison Wednesday for stealing $48,595 from the VA. He also ordered Joslin to repay the money he stole.

“This is about as reprehensible a white-collar crime as you can get,” Seabright told Joslin for passing himself off as a war hero who suffers from PTSD as a result of his heroics.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Perlmutter told Seabright that Joslin lied repeatedly to the VA and backed up those lies with fake military certificates he purchased online from a military veteran in Tennessee who has since been convicted and sent to prison for possessing and selling documents bearing counterfeit federal agency seals and pretending to be a federal officer or employee.

Perlmutter said Joslin was able to get away with his scam for so long because the people who reviewed his applications are medical professionals not investigators. She said Joslin also claimed he was in the Army Special Forces and that his service records were sealed.

It was the VA Office of Inspector General that investigated and uncovered Joslin’s lies.

Even after he started receiving disability checks, Joslin applied for even more benefits by claiming that he was unemployable, Perlmutter said.

That was a lie because in 2015 Joslin received certification in basic carpentry, maintenance painting and maintenance plumbing from University of Hawaii Maui College.

Joslin was stealing money from the VA while he was on state probation for multiple counts of theft, credit card theft, credit card fraud and unlawfully entering a home in two separate cases. His lawyer in the VA case, Assistant Federal Public Defender Craig Jerome, told Seabright that the state charges stem from Joslin’s addiction to prescription pain medication because of a shoulder injury.

Seabright is giving Joslin four months to turn himself in so he can complete physical therapy for his shoulder following his latest surgery.

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