Navy doctor and 2 veterans indicted in alleged $250,000 Navy insurance fraud scheme


VIDEO: The Navy's "sky penis" incident (a dramatic reading)

SAN DIEGO — A Navy doctor from Coronado and two other servicemembers were indicted by a San Diego federal grand jury on Thursday, accused of filing insurance claims totaling $250,000 for injuries that never happened, authorities said.

One of the three, former Chief Petty Officer Christopher Toups, had been indicted previously with his brother, ex-wife and two other people in connection with the fraud scheme.

Toups, 42, of Georgia, Cmdr. Michael Villarroel, 47, of Coronado and former Lt. Cmdr. Paul Craig, 46, of Texas, were charged in the new indictment with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making a false claim. The first two charges carry a maximum 20-year prison term while the third has a maximum five-year sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors said in a news release that Villorroel was the medical doctor for the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit One from March 2010 to May 2013, when he allegedly signed off on several false insurance claims.

The indictment alleges Toups fabricated insurance applications, using forged signatures and altered hospital records that belonged to real patients, collecting at least $100,000. By the same means, Craig is alleged to have collected $150,000.

Toups' attorney, Pedro Bernal, said in an emailed statement that his client looks forward to fighting the charges at trial.

Toups and his brother, Jason Toups, a petty officer 2nd class, were indicted in May 2018 on suspicion of filing false insurance claims in 2005 and 2004, respectively. Indicted with them were Chief Petty Officer Richard Cote of Oceanside, Lt. Earnest Thompson of Murrieta and Christopher Toups' ex-wife, known variously as Kelene McGrath, Jacqueline Toups and Kelene Meyer.

Meyer, Cote and Thompson have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitting to defrauding the Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Program out of $2 million, federal prosecutors said. They face sentencing in late January.

Thompson's attorney, Peter Blair, said the plea deal was favorable to his client, who retired honorably from the Navy in 2017.

Meyer, a former Navy nurse, said that she, her ex-husband and Villarroel received kickbacks for filing the fake insurance applications, prosecutors said in the news release.

©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune - Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Roughly a dozen U.S. troops showing concussion-related symptoms are being medically evacuated from Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, a defense official told Task & Purpose on Tuesday.

Read More

In a Galaxy — err, I mean, on a military base far, far away, soldiers are standing in solidarity with galactic freedom fighters.

Sitting at the top of an Army press release from March 2019, regarding the East Africa Response Force's deployment to Gabon, the photo seems, at first glance, just like any other: Soldiers on the move.

But if you look closer at the top right, you'll find something spectacular: A Rebel Alliance flag.

Read More
The maiden flight of the first CMV-22B Osprey took place in Amarillo, Texas (Courtesy photo)

The first of the CMV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft the Navy plans on adopting as its carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft of choice has successfully completed its first flight operations, manufacturer Boeing announced on Tuesday.

Read More
A soldier plugs his ears during a live fire mission at Yakima Training Center. Photo: Capt. Leslie Reed/U.S. Army

Another 300 lawsuits against 3M flooded federal courts this month as more military veterans accuse the behemoth manufacturer of knowingly making defective earplugs that caused vets to lose hearing during combat in Iraq or Afghanistan or while training on U.S. military bases.

On another front, 3M also is fighting lawsuits related to a class of chemicals known as PFAS, with the state of Michigan filing a lawsuit last week against the Maplewood-based company.

To date, nearly 2,000 U.S. veterans from Minnesota to California and Texas have filed more than 1,000 lawsuits.

Read More

GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea said on Tuesday it was no longer bound by commitments to halt nuclear and missile testing, blaming the United States' failure to meet a year-end deadline for nuclear talks and "brutal and inhumane" U.S. sanctions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set an end-December deadline for denuclearization talks with the United States and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said at the time the United States had opened channels of communication.

O'Brien said then he hoped Kim would follow through on denuclearization commitments he made at summits with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Read More