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Disabled St. Louis veteran lied to improperly receive disability benefits, feds say

By ROBERT PATRICK | St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 20, 2017

ST. LOUIS — A disabled veteran from St. Louis was indicted Wednesday and accused of lying to improperly receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Donald Crangle, now 57, suffered a back injury in 1985 during a traffic crash while on active duty with the U.S. Army, and determined to be 10 percent disabled, the indictment says. That was upped to 30 percent in 1990.

He was injured again in 1999 while working for the St. Louis Public Schools system, requiring surgery and more than $147,000 in medical bills, the indictment says. The school system and Crangle “stipulated” that he was 44 percent disabled, but was able to keep working until his job was eliminated in August 2003, the indictment says.

Three months later, Crangle asked for and received additional disability benefits from the VA by saying he became too disabled to work in July 2003, the indictment says.

But prosecutors say that it didn’t keep him from teaching concealed-carry classes from 2009-2013 and earning a total of $245,000. They said Crangle repeatedly lied to the VA about his employment and fraudulently earned more than $314,000 from the VA and SSA.

Crangle was indicted Wednesday on three counts of theft of government funds and five counts of making false statements.

The gun training classes also got him in trouble. In 2013, he was sentenced in St. Louis County Circuit Court to probation and community service after pleading guilty to four counts of issuing a false instrument or certificate and three counts of providing false information regarding the performance of an applicant.

Prosecutors and police said Crangle cut corners in his gun-training classes, granting certificates to students when they hadn’t completed the required training or met the state-mandated criteria. He also was banned from teaching concealed carry permit classes.

Investigators estimated at the time that Crangle taught nearly 2,000 people in St. Louis County. He was also a registered instructor in St. Charles and Jefferson counties as well as St. Louis and Florida.

Crangle once claimed on his website to be a retired veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces, but a group of Special Forces veterans obtained his military records and posted them online, showing he was a tank driver with an AWOL charge when he was honorably discharged.

In February, Crangle approached Fox2-KTVI’s Elliot Davis and complained that the VA had “slashed his benefits.”

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