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SAN DIEGO — A former chief petty officer for the U.S. Navy pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday, admitting he and others participated in an insurance fraud scheme worth $2 million, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Christopher Toups admitted to filing false claims to obtain unearned benefits from an insurance program that compensates service members who suffer serious injuries while on active duty. According to his plea agreement, Toups personally obtained about $400,000.

During Thursday’s hearing, the former petty officer admitted that from 2012 to December of 2015 he conspired with his then-spouse Kelene McGrath, Navy Dr. Michael Villarroel and others to commit wire fraud.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the group exaggerated and faked injuries and disabilities to obtain money from Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Program (TSGLI).

“The theft of military healthcare dollars directly harms service members and taxpayers,” said U.S.
Attorney Randy Grossman. “This fraud was costly for the U.S. Navy and now for this defendant.”

Toups also admitted to encouraging other Navy servicemembers to submit such claims, according to his plea agreement.

“Fraudulently filing claims for unearned TSGLI benefits diverts compensation from deserving servicemembers who suffered serious and debilitating injuries while on active duty,” said Special Agent in Charge Rebeccalynn Staples with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Western Field Office. “Worse yet, this defendant actively recruited others into the scheme to feed his greed for compensation he did not deserve. This guilty plea is a testament to the VA OIG’s commitment to investigating those who would defraud benefit programs administered by VA.”

Toups is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3, 2023.