PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A former social employee at a Rhode Island veterans’ hospital who used stolen affected person data to openly cross herself off as a adorned Marine Corps veteran with most cancers and fraudulently acquire almost $300,000 in advantages, charitable contributions, and donations was sentenced Tuesday to almost six years in jail.

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, 32, attended public occasions in uniform the place she spoke concerning the struggles veterans face, purchased a Purple Coronary heart and a Bronze Star to put on, and was even named commander of a Veterans of International Wars put up. Then, in early 2022 she was uncovered when a charity she utilized to for funds grew to become suspicious and began checking her background.

“Sarah Cavanaugh’s conduct in the midst of her scheme is nothing in need of appalling,” U.S. Legal professional Zachary Cunha mentioned in an announcement. “By openly laying declare to the glory, service, and sacrifice of actual veterans, this defendant preyed on the charity and decency of others for her personal shameless monetary acquire.”

Cavanaugh’s protection legal professional, Kensley Barrett, had sought a two-year sentence citing her lack of a legal historical past, low threat of reoffending, and the “vital value” she has already paid by way of public shame, lack of her skilled license, the breakup of her marriage, and even on-line dying threats.

Cavanaugh, who pleaded responsible in August to wire fraud, aggravated id theft, forgery, and fraudulent use of medals, apologized in courtroom.

There isn’t any file of Cavanaugh ever serving within the U.S. navy. She did, nonetheless, work as a licensed social employee for the Veterans Affairs Medical Middle in Windfall.

It was by way of the job that she gained entry to paperwork, private data and medical data belonging to an actual veteran with most cancers, which she used to create fraudulent paperwork and medical data in her title that mentioned she had been honorably discharged and had most cancers, prosecutors mentioned when she was charged final March.

When Cavanaugh mentioned that she couldn’t afford the insurance coverage deductibles for her most cancers remedy, the identical veteran whose id she had stolen and who’s recognized in courtroom papers solely by his initials, agreed to pay them for her – almost $600 per thirty days – an act that “plumbed the depths of ethical depravity,” prosecutors mentioned.

Cavanaugh mentioned she served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2009 till 2016, rose to the rank of corporal, and was being handled for lung most cancers on account of publicity to burn pits and from inhaling particulate matter from a bomb explosion, in response to authorities.

She accepted greater than $225,000 from the Wounded Warrior Venture alone to assist pay for yoga lessons, health club membership, groceries and bodily remedy, amongst different issues, in response to prosecutors.

She took her fraud to such extremes, authorities mentioned, that she instructed folks at her health club that accidents to her fingers left her unable to tie her footwear, so another person needed to get down on their knees to tie her laces at any time when she wished to work out.

In a single sufferer impression assertion submitted to the courtroom, an actual veteran she met mentioned she took a spot in a therapeutic veterans artwork program that might have gone to a veteran. The veteran instructed the courtroom {that a} buddy who utilized for this system, referred to as CreatiVets, was not accepted and later took his personal life. Cavanaugh obtained $15,000 from this system, in response to courtroom paperwork.

She obtained about $18,500 in monetary help from Code of Assist in Virginia for payments and about $4,700 from a fundraising web site, prosecutors mentioned.

An investigation was began after the Windfall nonprofit the HunterSeven Basis, which helps sick veterans, contacted the Windfall VA as a result of they have been suspicious of Cavanaugh when she requested help from them.

Cavanaugh, who was additionally ordered to pay full restitution, is remorseful, her legal professional wrote in courtroom paperwork. She suffered from “extreme trauma throughout her adolescence in highschool,” and thru her job developed a reference to the veterans she cared for.

“Right this moment’s sentencing sends a robust message to those that would signify themselves as one thing they’re not with a purpose to revenue from the kindness and respect proven to our nation’s deserving veterans,” mentioned Christopher Algieri, head of the VA’s Workplace of Inspector Normal’s Northeast Subject Workplace.

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