Central Florida man pleads guilty to stealing more than $1 million in VA benefits

Gavel, law

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A Marion County man has pleaded guilty to receiving stolen government funds.


A grand jury indicted now 70-year-old Paul Lesslie Thompson back in November on one count of receipt of stolen government property.

According to the indictment, from May 1993 until December 2022, Thompson knowingly took in $1,169,327 in disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs that he was not entitled to receive.

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Court records say Thompson first applied for VA Disability compensation in January of 1983 based on vision loss.

According to the Department of Justice, between May 1993 and December 2022, Thompson went on to exaggerate the severity of his impairment during VA vision exams, eventually receiving 100 percent disability based on his false claims.

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However, investigators say Thompson’s claims of vision loss didn’t prevent him from maintaining a Florida driver’s license and passing multiple required vision exams with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

On Monday, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida announced that Thompson had pleaded guilty as charged in the indictment.

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Thompson faces up to 10 years in federal prison and the forfeiture of at least $1.16 million of the fraudulently obtained funds. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

The Department of Veterans Affairs - Office of Inspector General investigated the case. It’s being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Hannah Nowalk.

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