3 Navy service members accused of insurance fraud

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SAN DIEGO — Three Navy service members were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for allegedly filing false insurance claims to net unearned benefits.

Dr. Michael Villarroel, 47, of Coronado, Paul Craig, 46, of Austin, Texas, and Christopher Toups, 42, of Woodstock, Georgia, are charged with wire fraud, conspiracy and making false claims for allegedly submitting fraudulent applications to the Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Program, which compensates service members who suffer serious injuries while on duty.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges Villarroel, a Navy commander and medical doctor, approved false applications for multiple service members connected to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit One, including Craig — a former lieutenant commander — and Toups — a former chief petty officer/construction mechanic.

Craig allegedly collected $150,000 through the false applications, while Toups is accused of taking in at least $100,000. The allegedly fraudulent applications included forged signatures and altered hospital records, according to prosecutors.

Four others were previously indicted in connection with the scheme, with three of those defendants pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The conspirators collectively defrauded the program out of nearly $2 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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