I-Team 10 Investigation: Former VA worker accused of fraud

Posted at: 05/01/2013 4:27 PM
Updated at: 05/02/2013 6:07 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

A woman is accused of defrauding taxpayers out of more than $20,000, claiming she was injured and unable to work.

Amelia Jackson worked at the VA Medical Center in Canandaigua and said she was injured on the job. But federal authorities say she was actually running another business on the side while collecting taxpayer-funded workers' compensation.

In 2008, Amelia Jackson claimed to have suffered a serious back injury at work, which would medically limit her to four hours of duty a day. The rest of the time, she was supposed to be resting or getting medical attention. Instead, the government says she was committing fraud with your money.

I-Team 10 caught up with Jackson as she headed into court Wednesday afternoon. She showed no obvious physical signs of injury. She's charged with making false written statements in an effort to get federal workers' compensation. Investigators say she filled out forms every two weeks certifying that she didn't have any outside work. But while she was collecting those taxpayer funded disability claims, she was in the process of getting a retail liquor license and opened Last Call Liquors on East Main Street in the city.

According to an investigator's affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, a VA employee went in and witnessed Jackson reaching for, picking up and replacing bottles and carrying bags without any difficulty.
Craig Gestring, Assistant U.S. Attorney, said, “During the course of the investigation, federal investigators did visit the liquor store several times, including with undercover video, and actually engaged in conversation with Miss Jackson. In fact, sometimes she was actually wearing her VA credentials at the time. So they did verify that during a time she said she was not working, she was, in fact, working at the liquor store."

The prosecutor says they believe Jackson collected more than $20,000 in disability she wasn't entitled to. She was released without any bail being set. If convicted, she could face as much as five years in prison.