United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
Jeffrey Wayne Rush, Petitioner, Pro se, Millington, TN.
For USA, Respondent: Gerald M. Burke, Suzanne M. Garrison, Assistant U.S. Attorney - Fairview Heights, Generally Admitted, Fairview Heights, IL.
WILLIAM D. STIEHL, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Petitioner Jeffrey Wayne Rush feigned paralysis to obtain a discharge from the United States Army, avoiding deployment to Iraq. He then fraudulently collected disability benefits from the Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Social Security Administration. He used his supposed disability to bring a fraudulent lawsuit against an automobile manufacturer, obtaining a handicapped-equipped van. Petitioner is currently serving a 78-month prison sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Millington, Tennessee. Now before the Court is his pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 1), alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, and the government's response (Doc. 5).
Petitioner was in the United States Army, assigned to the 24th Transportation Company. The Company received notice that it would be deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Before deployment, petitioner was in an accident while on duty, and the vehicle he was in rolled over. Upon examination at several facilities, petitioner was evaluated for possible spinal-cord injury. He told medical professionals that he was unable to walk and that he had lost control of his bowel and bladder. They were not able to identify a physical cause for petitioner's condition, however. The Army concluded that petitioner's apparent paralysis was due to a conversion disorder.  He was given a medical discharge. Petitioner had been able to walk all along, but feigned disability to avoid deployment and obtain the discharge.
Through his status as a medically retired veteran, petitioner and his wife were able to obtain medical care and benefits at reduced cost. Together they conspired to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) and the Social Security Administration (S.S.A.). Petitioner repeatedly represented to both agencies that he was paralyzed. Over a period of about three years, petitioner and his wife obtained about $107,857 in benefits from the V.A. and $28,730 from the S.S.A.
They also conspired to defraud an automobile manufacturer and a manufacturer of safety equipment. They brought a products-liability lawsuit against the manufacturers claiming that defects in petitioner's vehicle caused it to roll, leaving him paralyzed. Petitioner was able to obtain a handicapped-equipped van from the automobile manufacturer.
Petitioner was put under surveillance by federal agents. After gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses, the agents confronted petitioner at his home. Petitioner admitted that he could walk before his discharge from the Army, and he acknowledged his fraudulent schemes against the V.A., the S.S.A., and in the lawsuit. He was indicted and ultimately pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud involving the V.A., 18 U.S.C. § § 1343, 1349; making a false statement to the S.S.A., 18 U.S.C. § 1001; and conspiracy
to commit mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, 1349, as well as mail fraud, § 1341, involving the lawsuit. He was given three concurrent sentences of 78 months and a fourth concurrent sentence of 60 months (Docs. 62, 65, Case No. 09-CR-30081). Petitioner signed a sentencing agreement waiving his right to contest any aspect of ...