The Port St. Lucie man was prevented from getting away with his VA disability benefits because of Vanity.
While pulling this scam, Barton and his wife were posting pictures and videos online of Barton working out in the gym and flexing on stage in contests. Barton and his wife moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where investigators began tracking Barton's muscular moves.
Barton pleaded guilty to theft of government funds from a federal agency on Thursday in West Palm Beach federal court. Barton will be sentenced on August 11.
The homeless Army vet's identity was stolen for two decades. A man is charged.
Barton submitted a benefits claim to the VA in April 2012 that stated he was dealing with several issues. The percentage of disability that is used to determine the amount of VA benefits decreased over the next five years.
After Barton said his symptoms were getting worse, his percentage evaluation jumped from 30% to 70%. His guilty plea said he claimed increased social impairment, with deficiencies in work, school and family relations, depressed mood, anxiety,chronic sleep impairment, and other mental health problems.
He said he had limited motion of the arm at the shoulder level and pain in the arm.
Barton showed up for the exam using a cane, which he has been using for nine years. He said he had no strength to hold the book. He said his gym activities were limited to stretching, using bands, sauna sitting and weights of 5 to 10 pounds. He only went to the gym twice a week.
Barton said he was fat, but when asked about his muscle mass, he said he had good genetics.
Law enforcement began taking photos from the accounts run by Barton and his wife, Nicole Barton. They showed Barton, Z., doing what he told the VA he couldn't.
Barton's admission of facts says that he did strenuous weightlifting, executed barbell poses and competed in a competition for body builders.
When investigators learned Barton was moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado, they put a pole cam outside of his Florida home. They saw Barton walking and moving furniture.
On March 16, 2020, the VA granted his claim as having a spine disease related to his service, a problem that Barton said made it painful to even walk. On May 18, 2021, his percentage of post-traumatic stress disorder was increased to 100%.
Barton would only be able to take full disability benefits for a short time. Barton skipped a VA examination on June 23, 2021, the day after agents saw him walking and playing with his dogs. He gave another man fitness advice at Planet Fitness that morning. He told the man that he had been lifting for the last 10 years and did cardio training in the morning and weights in the evening. The man was told to meet him at Flex Gym.
Barton warned that it would begrueling, but he was a serious gym rat for two and a half to three years. Barton bragged his use of steroids didn't affect his ability to get an erection, which ran counter to what he had told VA doctors.
The man was working as an undercover agent. Barton was confronted by investigators the next day.
Barton admitted to faking his disabilities to receive VA disability compensation benefits.