Vet Who Stole From 9/11 Fund Faces Prison Time

     (CN) – A retired naval officer who told a Sept. 11 compensation fund he could not perform simple household tasks, though he was able to run a marathon, was convicted by a jury of stealing more than $150,000 from the government.
     Charles E. Coughlin filed a claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in 2003, saying he was injured in the Pentagon attack, prosecutors said. When the fund offered Coughlin $60,000, he balked and eventually obtained $180,000 in noneconomic damages and $151,034 in economic damages.
     The substantial award came after Coughlin and his wife told a hearing officer in May 2004 that he lost time from work because of his 9/11 injuries and needed compensation to undergo spinal surgery and a two-month recuperation period.
     The government later found that Coughlin had lied about his medical condition and pressed charges against him.
     While Coughlin had told the compensation fund that he was in constant pain and was unable to do simple chores, prosecutors presented evidence that he ran the New York City Marathon in November 2001.
     A jury convicted Coughlin of filing a false claim and theft of government property before Chief U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth in Washington.
     Prosecutors plan to seek a 41-month to 51-month prison term at sentencing on Nov. 21.
     The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Susan Menzer.

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