Washington County man who admitted to veterans benefits theft faces federal judge again

Posted Feb. 09, 2013, at 1:43 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 10, 2013, at 7:29 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Washington County man who has pleaded guilty to theft of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs was back before a federal judge Friday charged with violating his supervised release.

Richard C. Ramsdell, Jr., 38, of Cutler was on supervised release after his conviction in February 2011 for stealing copper from the Telecommunications Station in Cutler when last month he waived indictment and pleaded guilty to the theft of benefits charge.

A hearing date to determine whether Ramsdell violated the terms of his supervised release has not been set.

Ramsdell was released Friday on $10,000 unsecured bail in the revocation case. That is the same bail set in the theft of benefits case.

Ramsdell has admitted to obtaining more than $200,000 in VA benefits by making false statements about his back and his mental condition in responding to VA questionnaires, according to a previously published report. Ramsdell also claimed to be unemployed and incapable of working.

An investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General showed that Ramsdell has been harvesting balsam tips for two Washington County wreath manufacturers and has been working as a fisherman and a painter, despite telling the VA he had been unemployed for 11 years, according to documents filed in federal court in Bangor.

According to a VA ratings examiner, Ramsdell served only a period of months in the U.S. Marine Corps and would not have qualified for VA benefits without providing false information to the federal agency.

Ramsdell’s fraud was discovered while he was incarcerated in a federal prison in Pennsylvania on the copper theft conviction. He was recorded during a telephone call describing the strenuous manual labor that he was performing as an inmate and his eagerness to resume clamming once released.

Ramsdell also “counseled other veterans as to how they could defraud the VA,” court documents said.

Ramsdell faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and could be ordered to pay restitution for the benefits theft.

If his supervised release is revoked, he could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in federal prison.

Ramsdell was sentenced in February 2011 to four months in federal prison for stealing copper from the Telecommunications Station in Cutler. He also was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and make $4,900 in restitution to the U.S. Navy.

It was unclear Saturday whether a possible sentence on the revocation charge and a sentence on the benefits theft conviction could be served at the same time or would have to be served consecutively.

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