Air Force veteran pleads guilty in defrauding VA $1.9M in medical supplies

News

Hayley Fowler

The Charlotte Observer

Kevin Rumph Jr. did not find transitioning to civilian life easy after serving in the U.S. Air Force for eight years.

He bounced between jobs — first at an insurance company and then in private security — before stumbling into a career as a purchasing agent in the prosthetics division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

He hoped to help his fellow veterans, Rumph said in federal court filings, but the role felt more like paper pushing.

So he took matters into his own hands.

Nine years later, the federal government came knocking. Now Rumph, 41, is accused of stealing nearly $2 million worth of supplies for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines, also known as CPAPs, from the VA and selling them to a supplier in Ohio.

CPAPs are used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Prosecutors said Rumph used the money from selling the pricey machines to “gamble on the stock market.”

Rumph, who pleaded guilty to stealing medical products in August, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison on Wednesday, Dec. 1 in the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

A judge also ordered him to pay more than $2 million in restitution.

Rumph could not be reached for comment on Thursday, Dec. 2, and his defense attorney did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment. But in a letter to the court filed with his sentencing documents, Rumph said he had “no words to describe how profoundly sorry I feel for my selfish actions.”

“I lapsed both legally and morally and committed a crime that lasted many years,” he said in the letter. “I failed to stop and consider the impact my actions had on fellow veterans and my family. I will rightfully struggle with this guilt and shame for the entire remainder of my life.”

According to the indictment, Rumph was hired as a purchasing agent in the prosthetics department in 2012. He was assigned to work in the Community Based Outpatient Clinic at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rumph was tasked with processing requests for prosthetics and related medical equipment, placing purchase orders and coordinating deliveries, prosecutors said. He was also given a government-issued credit card to pay for supplies.

In 2013, Rumph reportedly started using that card for unauthorized purchases. The government said he bought CPAP supplies from a vendor in Alabama, which where then shipped to to the clinic at Fort McPherson. But the orders were never logged in the VA’s inventory, and Rumph reportedly put the CPAP supplies in his car as soon as they were delivered.

He then resold them to a supplier in Ohio, the indictment states.

From 2013 to 2021, Rumph is accused of making $1.9 million worth of unauthorized purchases of CPAP supplies and selling them under the table for a profit.

He pleaded guilty on Aug. 16.

In his letter to the court, Rumph said he didn’t enjoy his job at the VA and “longed to be an entrepreneur.”

“I noticed an opportunity to have the VA purchase items I could sell privately when an errant order went unnoticed,” he said. “I wrongfully rationalized that if I did it just once, no one would notice. I could then pursue my own private business and leave the VA with a steady income.”

Rumph said he tried day trading with the money from his first sale but lost everything.

So he tried again. And again. And again.

“I felt driven to keep stealing from the VA with the thoughts of ‘this will be the last time’ and then lose all the money day trading and steal all over again,” Rumph said. “As I look back, I was not investing, only gambling, and needed the fix, hoping to figure out the market and how to win.”

Over time, he said, his “losses became a cumulative mess.”

Rumph said he has been going to therapy for PTSD and meeting regularly with his pastor. He has an 8-year-old daughter, and his defense attorney asked the court to depart from the recommended prison time and instead sentence him to a period of home confinement.

At most, Rumph’s lawyer requested 12 to 13 months of incarceration.

Prosecutors, however, disagreed. They sought a prison sentence of three years and 10 months, saying Rumph’s PTSD and military service weren’t grounds for a lesser period of incarceration.

“Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, Rumph went to work and stole,” the government said in sentencing documents. “His crime was not a one-time crime of passion, or even a crime he undertook while suffering from his PTSD. Rather it was calculated, both during the commission of the crime and afterward, when he worked to hide his crime.”

In 2020, prosecutors said, Rumph sent in 233 fraudulent invoices for CPAP supplies.

“That is almost one fraudulent invoice every weekday for the entire year (there were 262 working days in 2020),” prosecutors said. “He only stopped when caught.”

The judge ultimately settled on 27 months — more than double what Rumph’s attorney requested. He also recommended Rumph serve his sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery. A date of surrender has not been set.

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