Former Mayor Pleads Guilty to Receiving Veterans Benefits Despite Having Not Served

December 21, 2017 07:13 PM

 

The former mayor of Lakeland, Robert A. Livingston, pleaded guilty in federal court in St. Paul Wednesday for making false demands against the United States.

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5 EYEWITNESS NEWS broke the story in September of 2016 when it reported that federal agents and the U.S. Attorney's Office were investigating Livingston's military service history.

RELATED: 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigates Veterans Benefits Process, Congressional Committee Wants Answers

During his successful 2012 mayoral campaign in the Washington County community of Lakeland, Livingston cited his military record in a newspaper clipping, writing he has "military service as a field grade officer ...."

The plea agreement said Livingston never served in the military and created "numerous false documents," including a DD-214, when he applied to the VA for health benefits and compensation.

Livingston obtained $110,566.21 in medical care from the Veterans Health Administration and $27,198.66 in tax-free disability payments to which he was not entitled, according to court records.

"I'm still frustrated, extremely frustrated," said Woodbury VFW member John Martin. "If this stops just one person from presenting fraudulent claims in the future I'd be happy, but I hope it prevents more than that."

At last check, a sentencing date had not been set.

RELATED: Minnesota Congressman Asks VA to Address Problems with Veterans' Benefits System

"Bob Livingston is a good person. He has done a lot of good in his life," said Michael J. Millios, Livingston's attorney. "I ask that his privacy be respected. The judge will review the evidence in extenuation and mitigation. I ask that the public not cast judgement."  

After the KSTP investigation aired in September of 2016, DFL Congressman Tim Walz, who serves on the House Committe of Veterans Affairs', wrote the VA about the issue. The VA's response is here.

After he learned of Livingston's guilty plea, Walz said via email, in part, "It's very unfortunate that VA benefits are a target for fraud. It makes it easier that the process that is used to verify service is antiquated …."

The plea agreement indicates Livingston could face prison, a fine and restitution at sentencing.

Credits

Eric Chaloux

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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