DOJ: Escambia Man Faked Being Marine to Steal VA Benefits

July 10, 2018

An Escambia County man has pleaded guilty to stealing from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Richard E. Kohl stole over $200,000, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Justice Department said Kohl falsely reported that he served in the Marines during the Korean War and was discharged in 1961, but he never served in any military branch.  He then used the false form (Form  DD-214) to claim veteran’s benefits to which he was not qualified.

Between February 2005 and February 2018 Kohl received benefit payments and services totaling approximately $219,719.39 from the VA.

“By defrauding the federal government for personal gain, Kohl stole resources needed to help real veterans,” said U.S. Attorney Canova. “These benefits are meant for the brave men and women who have served our country.”

Kohl faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 19.


25 Responses to “DOJ: Escambia Man Faked Being Marine to Steal VA Benefits”

  1. Carl on July 12th, 2018 3:27 pm

    Robert Schaaf, the word pleaded is the standard past tense and past participle of the word plea. Pled is used in many cases, but is incorrect. But pled has been used so often that it has been become an alternative of pleaded.

  2. David Smitherington on July 11th, 2018 7:03 pm

    This is an absolute disgrace. What VFW post verified his paperwork? They should be investigated.

  3. Jennifer c danos on July 11th, 2018 4:03 pm

    Post this guys picture so we can see who has been stealing from our families! He has never served and got over $200,000 and my husband served 24 years in the corp and it’s been hard as hell to get a dime from these jokers and its owed to them!

  4. James Spivey on July 11th, 2018 3:15 pm

    Here I am having done two tours in Iraq honorably and can’t even get rated for my PTSD so I can receive the treatment and medicines that I need…. smh

  5. lone chief on July 10th, 2018 11:35 pm

    Oh darn! You guys at North Escambia forgot to post this winners photo. Sure want to thank him personally for his non-service.

  6. AndrewW on July 10th, 2018 10:50 pm

    This makes me feel sick my Grandpa was in WW2,Korea and Vietnam and my dad was 20 years Navy my brother was Army as I was. So many vets are absconded and told there is nothing wrong and denied a percentage.This individual will get away with it unless he gets a judge that understands what he has done. All I can say all the honest vets men or women and future vets be thankful we are who we are and not thieves and decievers

  7. Robert Schaaf on July 10th, 2018 8:44 pm

    The article starts wrong it should be plead, not pleaded. It stays wrong. The fraud perpetuated by Mr. Kohl is disgusting in my opinion. Fraud seems to be a way of life and it starts at the top. A veteran is not just a service member who served during wartime, but anyone who served in the armed forces, coast guard or national guard. I respect veterans and I really hope that our president keeps his promises about reforming the VA.

  8. VA Employee setting record straight on July 10th, 2018 7:34 pm

    You are spreading false information in reference to the requirements to be considered a Veteran. I highly encourage any one who served in the military and was discharged for any reason other than “Dishonorable” apply for benefits and allow the Veteran’s Administration determine your eligibility. You can call 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Mon-Fri between 8 am and 8 pm, EST for more information or go online to

    As a fellow veteran I too find this man’s actions appalling.

  9. Jim on July 10th, 2018 7:23 pm

    @Adam: You are a veteran if you have honorably served and been discharged from the armed services, whether during wartime or otherwise. The benefits that you receive can vary if you served in certain areas during wartime. A person who honorably served his or her country in the military, still served and is considered a veteran.
    Thank you for your service! I also served during the Vietnam conflict, as well as during Operation Desert Storm, and several “unofficial” actions.

  10. EMD on July 10th, 2018 6:19 pm


    You are a veteran only if you served on active duty during war time. I did, during the VN conflict, but I would not have tried to claim any benefits for that little drop in the bucket. I do however receive benefits as the widow of a military man who retired from the military. Those DD 214’s have to be originals or notarized. This guy must have had someone on the inside. Just not right. There are real veterans living on the streets. This is sad.

  11. MCPO on July 10th, 2018 5:11 pm

    The property tax exemption applies in the state of Florida if you are rated ar 100% disability by the VA. As far as blaming the VA, that is not going to change a damn thing. My wife and I are both retired military. She did 25 and I just retired at 30 years. She has been employed by the VA hospital in Pensacola for almost 5 years. The guy is a POS for stealing from VETS. There are folks that claim to be VETs who are not. Most the ones you see panhandling are not VETS. VETS are to proud to stand on a corner and ask for money. They continue to steal our VALOR as well as the benefits of VETERAN’s. I hope he rots in Hell!

  12. anne 1of2 on July 10th, 2018 2:38 pm

    How does one fake being a Marine? That income exemption sure makes it appear he had some help pulling this off.

  13. i know on July 10th, 2018 1:50 pm

    Most of the personnel files from the Korean war were destroyed in ‘72 or ‘73. making it easier to be a fraud….

  14. Adam on July 10th, 2018 11:35 am

    I was in the military. All I have is my discharge and DD214. I have not filed for any benefits. What other documentation is required? Shouldn’t they have caught him before giving him benefits.

  15. Jennifer on July 10th, 2018 11:00 am

    Ten years that’s all you got people in prison with burglary charges that stole way less then that and are serving 15 years.

  16. Mike on July 10th, 2018 9:53 am

    So now he will go to prison where we will continue to pay for his benefits and now all his food and housing. He still won.

  17. John on July 10th, 2018 8:50 am

    I totally agree with Dennis. There are so many questions needed to be answered here. What nuclear brain surgeon at the VA is responsible for this FUBAR? Also this dude pays no property taxes. He has 100% exemption. Can someone tell me what “income exemption” is? I can not find such an exemption on the web. I want that exemption! Hopefully it’s looked into how far his scams go. My wife and I both have over 20 years each Navy and my son has 13 years Marines and this guy really ticks me off (I’m struggling to keep this clean). His wife knew he was lying. This dude has to be at least 80+ years, a 10 year sentence, if he gets it, will probably be a death penalty.

  18. bewildered on July 10th, 2018 8:22 am

    I am confused. Is he disabled and knew you get a lot more money from the VA than from Social Security Disability?

  19. Cindy on July 10th, 2018 7:53 am

    Dennis – DD-214 and other papers can easily be forged.

  20. Kenneth Walker on July 10th, 2018 7:50 am

    I been trying for over 20 yrs and I am a veteran who served so all I have to do is lie.

  21. W.W. on July 10th, 2018 7:25 am

    I have no sympathy regarding his fate.

  22. JustSaying on July 10th, 2018 6:59 am

    I’m with you, Dennis! My Dad was retired Air Force, and had to have all kinds of credentials to get his benefits started ( DD-214). If he was smart enough to pull that off, he could have made millions elsewhere, legally! That’s terrible to steal from the VA, when others really need it.

  23. Bama on July 10th, 2018 6:32 am

    I hope he gets the full sentence and has to serve every minute of it.

  24. A on July 10th, 2018 3:14 am

    What a greedy filthy Loser!

  25. Dennis on July 10th, 2018 2:15 am

    How could this even be possible? I’m certain he was asked for his discharge papers and his DD-214 when he applied for benefits,

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