GREENBELT, Md. (August 17, 2022)—A federal jury convicted Mary Francis Biggs, age 65, of Lexington Park, Maryland, late on August 15, 2022, for conspiracy to commit theft of government property and for theft of government property in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain additional military disability benefits for her husband from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). As a result of the fraud scheme, from 2016 through 2019, Biggs and her husband received over $170,000 in disability benefits and early retirement pay to which they were not entitled.
The conviction was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Kim R. Lampkins, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), Mid-Atlantic Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration—Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), Philadelphia Field Division.
According to the evidence presented at Biggs' six-day trial, Biggs participated in a conspiracy organized by her daughter, Angela Farr, in which false and fraudulent documents were submitted to the VA in support of disability claims in the name of Individual 1, who was Biggs' husband and Farr's father. The fraudulent documents stated that Individual 1 was homebound and required full-time assistance for basic tasks such as eating, bathing, and dressing. In fact, Individual 1 lived an ordinary, active life. For at least some of the time, Biggs and Farr concealed their fraud from Individual 1.
According to trial evidence, Individual 1 was a member of the United States Navy from January 29, 1974 to January 31, 1997. The evidence proved that Individual 1 received a 100% service-connected disability rating by the VA, and Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), based on fraudulent documentation submitted as part of the conspiracy. On approximately July 5, 2017, the VA determined, based on fraudulent documentation, that Individual 1 was not capable of managing his finances because of his purported disabilities, and appointed Biggs as Individual 1's fiduciary. As such, Biggs was responsible for the receipt and expenditure of Individual 1's fraudulently obtained VA benefits funds. During this time, Individual 1 was employed as a civilian employee of the Navy, supervising a logistics unit of 25 people.
Specifically, Biggs and Farr conspired to exaggerate Individual 1's claims, which involved the submission of fraudulent and fictitious medical documents. Biggs and Farr also conspired to conceal from VA the fact that Individual 1 was working, and as part of a VA field interview on September 13, 2017, Biggs did not disclose the fact that Individual 1was employed and completed a form stating that Individual 1 had no employment income. Biggs spent the fraudulently received disability compensation payments on daily living expenses, cruise vacations, and a kitchen renovation, even though she was aware that her husband was not entitled to the payments. Biggs and her husband received more than $170,000 in VA benefits to which he was not entitled.
Farr and her husband at the time, Michael Pace, fraudulently obtained disability benefits for themselves in the same way. Pace received the highest amount of disability compensation and SMC paid by VA. In addition, Pace received a Caregiver Assistance stipend of more than $2,500 per month, for purportedly serving as Farr's caregiver, despite claiming to be completely disabled himself and unable to use his arms and legs. Farr fraudulently obtained disability benefits from the VA and from the Social Security Administration. In total, Farr received approximately $440,085 in VA benefits to which she was not entitled, and approximately $35,666 in Social Security benefit payments to which she was not entitled, resulting in a loss to the United States of $475,751 just on Farr's claims alone. Pace received $370,912 in VA benefits to which he was not entitled.
Angela Marie Farr, age 36, and Farr's ex-husband Michael Vincent Pace, age 42, both of Leonardtown, Maryland previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.
Biggs faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for theft of government property. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has not yet scheduled sentencing.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the VA OIG and SSA OIG for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Davio and Assistant U.S. Attorney Coreen Mao, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office, its priorities, and resources to report fraud, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and www.justice.gov/usao-md/report-fraud.