Soldier fakes injury to steal Purple Heart, disability money
Fraud of the Month: September 2016
A rocket exploded by Army soldier Darryl Lee Wright’s Humvee while he was patrolling in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The blast knocked him unconscious, scattering rubble and debris everywhere, he said.
The Seattle man ended up with post-traumatic stress syndrome and a brain injury, he said. Wright curled into a fetal position most of the time back home. He couldn’t cook, hold down a job or even button his shirt.
Sad story of a brave lieutenant hurt while doing his job for the sake of freedom. Wright received a Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.
Wright parlayed that iconic medal of personal sacrifice into more than $750,000 worth of federal disability and other benefits. The medal legitimized his insurance claims to the feds. At one point he raked in $10,000 of taxpayer dollars a month.
Except his rocket wound was an elaborate lie. When applying for the medals, Wright included a photo of a mangled Humvee unrelated to his incident. And the rocket landed more than 300 feet from his Hummer. Wright never mentioned injuries in reports right afterward, nor was anyone else on his patrol injured.
Yet Wright said he needed a full-time caregiver, house cleaner and yard worker. He couldn’t cook, take public transport or be in crowds. His crumbled attention span lasted only five-10 seconds, and he couldn’t follow instructions.
Wright hired his sister Karen Bevens as his home caregiver. She supposedly spent more than 40 hours per week caring for him; he could function only with the help of Bevens or other hired workers.
“He sullied the reputations of people, institutions and agencies. Worst of all, he hurt the heroes who fully deserve recognition, respect, and honor.” Meanwhile, Wright played in a rec basketball league and coached a high school team. He belonged to an emergency team that responded to fires and did rescue searches in Snoqualmie, east of Seattle. He had a “sport” membership at a local country club, and took vacation trips.
Wright also was a board member for a hospital foundation, and ran for political office. Investigators caught him pushing a lawnmower outside his home as well.
His sister Bevens was a no-show caregiver. Her role was fake. Wright sent false invoices to the feds to show he’d paid her for work she performed. She was his round-the-clock in-home caretaker, Bevens lied in an affidavit.
Wright somehow got a full-time federal job while supposedly being stuck in a fetal position at home. A unit director grew suspicious when Wright began skipping work after awhile on the job.
PTSD caused the mounting absences, Wright claimed. He submitted a bogus Military Order to justify his actions. He ended up in federal court, pleading guilty in August 2016.
Wright could spend up to 20 years in federal prison when sentenced. Bevens also pleaded guilty.
“Darryl Wright has engaged in a long-lasting, persistent, epic offense,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. “He sullied the reputations of people, institutions and agencies. Worst of all, he hurt the heroes who fully deserve recognition, respect, and honor.”