Jailed Wisconsin Vet's Appeal to be Heard October 25 | WisCommunity

Jailed Wisconsin Vet's Appeal to be Heard October 25

An innocent Gillett, Wisconsin veteran, Navy Airman Keith Roberts (1968-71), sits in federal prison serving a four-year sentence for wire fraud since March, on appeal.

Roberts&; criminal appeal will be heard on Oct. 25 before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Roberts simultaneously awaits the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims’ (CAVC) decision on his VA disability case, litigating the same set of facts before two judicial forums.

If Roberts’ criminal conviction and denial and reduction of benefits stand, every veteran who has a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  disability case pending in the VA is theoretically in legal jeopardy, as PTSD claims skyrocket.

Roberts’ VA claim for his diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is related to his trying to save his buddy, Florida native Airman Gary Holland, from being crushed to death by a C-54 airplane while stationed at a Naval air base in Naples, Italy in 1969.

Roberts became the central figure in an Alice-in-Wonderland tale, after ">U.S. Attorney Stephen Biskupic of Wisconsin and top VA officials schemed to convict Roberts’ of fraudulently receiving VA benefits (by wire transfer as the VA requires).

Frustration drove Roberts to phone the VA Inspector General’s office in Illinois in Nov. 2003, accusing the VA of “fraud” in altering a VA transcript.

The angered VA retaliated and investigated Roberts, flying around the country asking veterans who did not know Roberts during his service if 30-some years later they could place Roberts at the scene of ">the death of Airman Holland on whom the Navy, in a heavily criticized investigation, tried to pin the blame of his own death, to the disgust of Roberts.

The vets&; failure to name Roberts led top officials of the VA to convince U.S. Atty Biskupic to pursue fraud charges against Roberts, in accordance with administration policy that discourages PTSD disability claims.

On Aug. 16, 2004, the VA halted Roberts’ benefits based upon a biased investigation. Roberts appealed on Sept. 14, 2004, and was indicted seven months later.

Roberts fired off a letter to the VA on Nov. 22, 2004, and claimed a violation of his Constitutional due process rights by the VA Inspector General&;s office.

Roberts case is supported by a long list of veterans’ advocates—including ">Veterans for Common Sense’ Paul Sullivan and Vietnam Army veteran and ">attorney Robert Walsh.

The case has also drawn the attention of ">Harper&;s magazine contributor and human rights attorney, Scott Horton:

(T)ake a look at another prosecution brought in Wisconsin against a wounded vet, whose claims for benefits was turned into a criminal prosecution for wire fraud. As ">Wisconsin Public Radio reports,Keith Roberts, a Navy veteran got into the U.S. attorney’s crosshairs by filing a claim for benefits related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosed as occurring because he witnessed and tried to prevent his friend from being crushed to death by a C-54 airplane while stationed at a Naval air base in Naples, Italy 1969, and unrelated assault by the Navy Shore Patrol—granted and then denied, has not yet been decided by the CAVC.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after being accused of fraud in 2003 by Roberts ignored the CAVC process and investigated and asked that Roberts be prosecuted for fraud by the US Attorney’s office.

The prosecution smacks of retaliation and a plan to suppress veterans claims—Roberts was prosecuted for tenaciously pursuing a claim for benefits, which VA resisted and which is still in the benefits review process. It may be that the veteran is making claims which shouldn’t be granted, but the decision to resist them by a criminal complaint is very heavy handed. What happens if the Veterans’ Appeals process rules for Roberts? As I read these papers, that seems possible. And if it happens, (U.S. Attorney Stephen) Biskupic will have egg on his face a second

Veterans&; advocates ask that you please contact the following members of Congress expressing your objection that Roberts was:

- Singled out by the VA and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney because he spoke out against the fraudulent and slow VA

- Was prosecuted for wire fraud while his VA disability benefits claim was and is still being adjudicated in the VA claims process

Rep. John Conyers, Jr
Chair, House Committee on the Judiciary
E-mail: ">John.Conyers@mail.house.gov
(Phone) (313) 961-5670
(Fax) (313) 226-2085

Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Member, House Committee on the Judiciary
E-mail: Field: http://tammybaldwin.house.gov/get_address.html
(Phone) (608) 258-9800
(Fax) (608) 258-9808

Contributions can be sent to:
Keith A. Roberts Defense Fund, Inc.
c/o Kentucky Neighborhood Bank
201 E. Lincoln Trail Blvd.
Radcliff, KY 40160



October 21, 2007 - 6:26am