All military veterans and taxpayers should be appalled by the story “Woman stole nearly 50 years of VA benefits by pretending to be her dead mother” (Web, Jan. 23). Basically, you can steal almost $500,000 from the U.S. government and get no jail time, just house arrest, probation, and an order to pay back the money you stole. The latter punishment is like getting caught shoplifting and having to return what you took.  

I do not care what Irene Ferrin’s life was like or how old she is; she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from me and you every month for over 48 years. She needs to spend the rest of her life in jail and lose everything she owns that is of any monetary value.  

The big joke is the restitution Ferrin is supposed to make. In 99% of these cases, after 10 years the government is lucky if they recoup 5% of what is owed. In most situations, the rate of repayment would require the person to live 10,000 years. The other joke is there is no accounting for inflation, so even if the criminal does pay it back, it was an interest-free loan. In many ways, the criminal is actually being rewarded.

Congress should pass legislation that requires any restitution to factor in inflation and some interest as though the thief were repaying a loan — plus an additional monetary penalty.  


Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy (retired)

Alexandria, Virginia

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