Dripping Springs woman sentenced for defrauding VA, social security of more than $500K

A Dripping Springs woman was sentenced to prison time and has been ordered to pay restitution for defrauding two federal agencies for almost six years.

40-year-old Josephine Casandra Perez-Gorda was sentenced Thursday to 46 months in prison and will have to pay $501,709.54 in restitution for defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) of more than $500,000.

Court documents say Perez-Gorda overstated the severity and extent of her husband's disability from Oct. 2011 to Aug. 2017. Mr. Perez-Gorda, now deceased, was an Army veteran who participated in the fraud.

The couple claimed Mr. Perez-Gorda was paralyzed from the waist down from an injury he suffered while on active duty. The ruse included applying for and receiving a specially equipped vehicle, a specially adapted home and additional compensation based on his disability rating.

An investigation into the couple's claims began after a news story by a San Antonio station aired where nonprofit foundation Homes for Our Troops voiced concerns about whether Mr. Perez-Gorda was actually paralyzed. The nonprofit had gifted the couple a specially-adapted home in Dripping Springs in Dec. 2013, says the US Attorney's office.

Mrs. Perez-Gorda had claimed her husband was "paralyzed from the belly button down," but Mr. Perez-Gorda was reportedly seen walking around the neighborhood and playing basketball, says the US Attorney's office. VA agents later videotaped Mr. Perez-Gorda walking around without assistance.

Mrs. Perez-Gorda also furthered the scheme by completing all the VA and SSA paperwork claiming Mr. Perez-Gorda was paralyzed in both legs, says the US Attorney's office.

In September, Mrs. Perez-Gorda was found guilty of 11 counts of wire fraud; one count of mail fraud; one count of health care fraud; three counts of false statements related to a health care matter; one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud; and one count of theft of government funds. 

Perez-Gorda is also responsible for a $100 special assessment on each of the 18 counts and $100,000 for trial expenses.