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Missouri man who posted workout videos pleads guilty to veterans disability fraud

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(The Center Square) – A Missouri man who posted videos of himself lifting heavy weights pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming increased disability benefits worth $106,245 from the Veterans Administration.

Charles Adams, 50, of Berkley, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of government funds before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis.

Adams applied for additional disability benefits due to service-connected degenerative disc disease and degenerative arthritis. He underwent multiple medical evaluations, according to a media release from the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.

In April 2017, he reported difficulty getting out of bed on some days and an inability to stand for extended lengths of time. A Veterans Administration examiner recorded Adams walked slowly and with a marked limp. In November 2017, Adams demonstrated severe limitations in his range of motion, rotation and other use of his back during an examination.

Videos posted to Adams’ Instagram show him lifting heavy weights and squatting in late 2017 and March 2018. His plea agreement states in March 2018 he performed various strenuous exercises with high levels of resistance. Actions included deep squats and leg presses, and other high-intensity exercises and movements, according to the plea agreement.

The plea agreement states the videos contradict Adams’ claims he was limited in his ability to lift, squat, bend, stand, walk and sit.

Adams applied for individual unemployability benefits from the Veterans Administration in February 2018. His application included a statement from a doctor describing his limited movement, including bending, stooping, twisting, lifting more than 25 pounds above shoulder height, kneeling, running, jumping and standing.

Adams also applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in August 2019 after his application was rejected in January 2017. Adams stated his medical conditions affected his abilities to lift, squat, bend, stand, walk and sit.

Adams didn’t report he went to Club Fitness for workouts. He checked into the health club the day before a July 2020 hearing for his second disability application, the day of his hearing and the day after.

Adams continued to work out at Club Fitness in 2020 and 2021. Adams had a medical review with the Veterans Administration in June 2021. Investigators watched Adams walk normally and he carried bags of trash before going to his examination. When he arrived at the Veterans Administration, he walked at a much slower pace and used a cane.

Adams is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. He also was ordered to repay the money.

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