A Stafford Springs man must spend 18 months in prison and repay more than $525,000 for cheating fellow veterans who turned to him for help procuring increased veterans' benefits, federal prosecutors say.
John J. "Buzzy Simon" Simon Jr., 69, also was sentenced Tuesday in Hartford federal court to three years of supervised release, Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said. Simon pleaded guilty last October to one count of mail fraud and one count of structuring currency transactions.
According to court documents and testimony, from March 2009 to August 2010, Simon, a Vietnam War vet, engaged in a scheme to defraud four military veterans claiming that, in exchange for money, he could assist them in obtaining increased benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The veterans suffer from service-related disabilities and/or are chronically ill. But prosecutors say Simon never pursued any assistance for them.
Instead, he pocketed about $525,521 he collected from 16 victims in all. Moreover, investigators say Simon tried disguising the ill-gotten sums for deposit into his bank account in amounts meant to avoid triggering transaction reports to federal bank monitors.
In Oct. 2010, the IRS seized $210,085.58 from Simon's bank account. The seized funds will be used to pay restitution to his victims, plus $315,435.42 in additional restitution that the court ordered him to pay.
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