VA tells Jan. 6 defendant awaiting trial benefits being cut over seditious conspiracy charge, report
VA also plans to suspend "compensation benefit payments" starting Sept 1
The federal government plans to suspends or terminate benefits to a military veteran and his family as a result of him being charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
The Department of Veterans Affairs informed the veteran, Kenneth Harrelson, and his wife in a June 13 correspondence that such actions are the result of the Justice Department telling the agency that Harrelson has been charged with "indicted and charged with Seditious Conspiracy," the Epoch Times reported Thursday.
The letter also states the veterans’ agency must suspend payment of "gratuitous benefits" pending disposition of the criminal proceedings. "If convicted, gratuitous benefits are forfeited, automatically, from and after the date of the offense."
Gratuitous benefits include the right to burial in a national cemetery, according to the federal government.
The agency also said it plans to suspend "compensation benefit payments" starting Sept. 1, which is the first day of the month following a 60-day due process period.
However, if Harrelson is subsequently acquitted of the charge, payments can be resumed from the date of suspension. And if he’s convicted, benefits will be retroactively terminated effective January 5, 2021, the date proceeding the offense, which suggest that money could have to be repaid to the federal government.
"This is what you have when vindictive leftists get in charge of major parts of the government," Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert told the Times.
According to the 18-page criminal complaint (pdf), Harrelson was charged with Conspiracy (1) Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and Aiding and Abetting (2) Destruction of Government Property and Aiding and Abetting (3) Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds (4) Tampering with Documents or Proceedings (5). According to the Arrest Warrant (pdf.)
Harrelson was arrested at his home in Titusville, Florida, on March 10, 2021.
The seditious conspiracy charge was added with several others on Jan. 12, according to the Criminal Docket.
Harrelson is being held in a correctional treatment facility in Washington, D.C.
The June 13 notice appears to contradict one the VA sent in May 2021 stating: "As long as your husband is not convicted, your benefits will continue to be paid.
"If your husband is convicted, and he has to serve greater than 60 days, then his benefit will be reduced to 10%. I am sorry if I did not communicate that correctly. So, right now you will continue to receive funds pending the outcome of the trial," the Times also reports.
The wife, Angel Harrelson, has said she thinks “Democrats in power” are intentionally targeting Jan. 6 participants just because they are Trump supporters, also according to the Times.
"Right now it’s a lot of emailing, me trying to get someone at the VA to give me that letter that DOJ sent them,” she said about the most recent VA letter.