HONOLULU – United States District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright sentenced Cody Joslin, age 32, to 18 months in prison today for theft of funds from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (the “VA”). Joslin pleaded guilty on October 24, 2017, to receiving VA benefits to which he was not entitled by falsely claiming that he suffered from combat-related injuries and trauma.
“The VA provides valuable services to the men and women who serve this country, but like all government agencies, it is susceptible to abuse by dishonest people,” said Kenji Price, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii. “Our office will continue to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who use deception to obtain vital resources that should rightfully go to Veterans who are truly in need.”
“This conviction demonstrates the VA Office of Inspector General’s unwavering commitment to protect the programs intended to assist Veterans that have served this nation and rightfully earned their benefits,” said Special Agent in Charge James Wahleithner, VA Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division.
According to court documents and information presented in court, Joslin was in the U.S. Army for approximately nine months, and never served in a combat zone or overseas.
Nevertheless, Joslin submitted paperwork to the VA claiming that he suffered from Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder and tinnitus as a result of multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. To support these claims, he fabricated stories about engaging in active combat, and about witnessing combat-related deaths of friends, and injuries from rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). Joslin also submitted fake military certifications purporting to show that he received certain combat awards.
He purchased these certifications online from a Veteran who had been previously convicted for possession and sale of counterfeit U.S. documents. As a result of these false claims, Joslin received over $48,000 in VA disability benefits to which he was not entitled.
At today’s sentencing, Judge Seabright commented that Joslin had engaged in a “gross abuse” of the VA system by claiming he was a “war hero” when he wasn’t, conduct Judge Seabright called “reprehensible on many levels.” In addition to a term of imprisonment, Joslin must also pay $48,595.11 in restitution to the VA.
The case was investigated by the VA Office of the Inspector General and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca A. Perlmutter.