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Crystal Lake Man, 4 Others Charged With Scamming Veterans, Military

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (CBS) — Federal charges have been leveled against five people, in alleged schemes to cheat veterans and the military.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Rockford says John Blanchard, 51, of Crystal Lake; his wife, Joanne Blanchard, 49; his brother, James Blanchard, 55, of McHenry; and two others who worked for John Blanchard’s companies – Eric Behler, 51, of Curlew, Wash., and Amy Johnson, 50, of Elkhart, Ind., have been indicted on charges of obtaining federal contracts that were supposed to go to disabled veteran-owned businesses, the Chicago Tribune reported.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

John Blanchard is the owner of several businesses, including Liberating Solutions Corp., and the National Association of Systems Administrators Inc.

The government says John Blanchard’s businesses “are purportedly designed to help homeless U.S. military veterans by providing them with work training, community reintegration, and other services,” the Tribune reports.

Prosecutors said the defendants ran three different scams. In one, they lied and claimed the majority of Liberated Solutions was actually owned by disabled veterans so as to qualify for certain federal contracts, the Tribune reported.

In another, the defendants claimed they paid veterans prevailing wages, but that was not true, the Tribune reported.

The third involved the non-profit NASA Education, which allegedly padded expenses to keep excess grant funds from Stand Down events that it staged, the Tribune reported.

The five defendants were also accused of fraud, and accruing federal grant money for expenses they never incurred, the newspaper reported.