Armando Ramirez, AHCCCS Agent and Ex-Cop, Accused of Defrauding Veterans' Groups
Armando Jay Ramirez, a former Phoenix cop and state medical-fraud investigator, has been indicted on suspicion of defrauding veterans' groups and state and federal agencies.
Ramirez, 40, worked for the Phoenix Police Department's South Mountain Precinct for about five years until his 2011 domestic-violence arrest in Casa Grande. Despite a felony conviction for unlawful discharge of a weapon, he began work in June of 2012 as a fraud investigator for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
On September 16, he was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury on nine felony counts and one misdemeanor related to his alleged fraud and theft from AHCCCS, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans' groups including the Wounded Warrior Project and Challenge America.
What Ramirez did, exactly, still isn't clear. A source tells us the charges have a connection to Ramirez's claims of being a combat veteran in Iraq and Afghanistan. As can be seen in online resume -- deleted as of last week but still cached on Google -- Ramirez claims to have coached and mentored "divisional combat leaders" through six combat missions.
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The state Attorney General's Office, acting as the investigating police agency in the case, confirmed for New Times Ramirez's recent employment as an AHCCCS investigator and the fact that he'd been indicted. An AG's office spokeswoman said a few more details about the case could be released today -- we'll update this post when we learn more.
UPDATE: The AG's Office confirms that Ramirez is alleged to have "falsified his military discharge papers to incorrectly reflect overseas combat service."
The indictment accuses Ramirez of:
* Four counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices, each a Class Two felony, related to schemes involving the above-named groups and agencies.
* One count of theft, a Class Two felony, for obtaining without lawful authority a salary and benefits valued at more than $25,000.
* One count of theft, a Class Two felony, for making a "material misrepresentation" that caused him to obtain improperly services or property of the Wounded Warrior project in excess of $4,000.
* One count of theft, a Class One misdemeanor, for illegally going on a Challenge America "golf outing" worth less than $1,000.
* Three counts of forgery, Class Four felonies, for creating VA department documents in support of his claim that he has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Ramirez made headlines in December of 2011 after being arrested by Casa Grande police for firing his gun during a fight with his wife. No one was injured in the incident, but Ramirez took a plea deal that dismissed counts of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct with a weapon, but was convicted on a felony violation of Shannon's Law. He was given a year of probation, after the completion of which he had the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. Earlier this year, though, the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board revoked his peace-officer certification.
Ramirez pleaded not guilty last week to the fraud and theft charges. His next scheduled court hearing is December 8.
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