Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell has sentenced Barry Wayne Hoover (51, Tampa) to 27 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $429,568.09 in restitution for theft of government funds and false statement to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). As part of his sentence, the court also entered a forfeiture money judgment against Hoover in the amount of $429,568.09, the proceeds of the offense. A federal jury had found Hoover guilty on December 3, 2021.
According to evidence presented at trial, Hoover, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, exaggerated the extent of his visual impairment in order to receive VA disability benefits to which he was not entitled. Specifically, Hoover manipulated the results of subjective tests of his peripheral vision to reflect that he had a 5-degree visual field and was legally blind. Hoover also made false statements to the VA regarding his ability to drive and perform other activities. Based upon the manipulated test results and false statements, the VA found Hoover 100% disabled and awarded him significant monetary benefits and other valuable services.
In stark contrast to Hoover’s representations to the VA, agents’ surveillance, video footage, social media posts, and other evidence showed Hoover driving a car, a three-wheeled motorcycle, an ATV, and a boat. Hoover was also captured mowing his lawn, operating power tools such as a chain saw, hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and performing other tasks, including, but not limited to, shopping, without assistance. Expert testimony at trial established that an individual with a 5-degree visual field could not drive and would be reliant on a white cane to function in public. Hoover received approximately $429,568.09 in VA benefits to which he was not entitled as a result of his misrepresentations.
“Today’s sentence sends a clear message that veterans who defraud the VA by exaggerating their disabilities will be held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge David Spilker of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Southeast Field Office. “VA’s disability programs are established to justly compensate deserving veterans and the VA OIG is committed to investigating those who would exploit these programs.”
This case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler and Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany Fields.