A veteran from New Hampshire admitted in federal court to faking his need for a wheelchair for 20 years, enabling him to claim more than $660,000 in benefits to which he wasn’t entitled, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said on Thursday.
Christopher Stultz, 49, of Antrim, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements, and will be sentenced on May 6, according to a Thursday statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Hampshire.
Stultz told the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in January 2003 that he wasn’t able to use his feet, which prompted the VA to rate him 100% disabled and increase his monthly benefits. He was also given extra funding to adapt five different vehicles to help a mobility-impaired individual drive, according to his January 4 plea agreement.
From January 2003 through December 2022, he received $662,871.77 in VA benefits he wasn’t entitled to, the statement noted.
Stultz’s deception was revealed after law enforcement officers surveilled him multiple times walking normally without the use of his wheelchair, such as one day in October 2021 when he was seen using a wheelchair within a VA facility. After he left, however, he stood up and lifted his wheelchair into his car. He then drove to a shopping mall where he “walked normally through multiple stores,” the statement noted.
When confronted by law enforcement officials about his mobility, Stultz “admitted that he could use both of his feet and that he knew it was wrong for him to collect extra benefits,” according to the plea agreement. “He also admitted that he did not need the VA-funded vehicles with the special adaptations and that he had sold those vehicles.”
According to the plea agreement, multiple people who knew Stultz since the early 2000s said they had never known him to need a wheelchair or other ambulatory device for mobility.
Stultz’s attorney didn’t immediately return a request for comment.