A Chelsea man who previously lived three miles from VA Maine Healthcare System-Togus was sentenced Friday to five years of probation and ordered to pay more than $17,000 in restitution because he falsely claimed he traveled hundreds of miles to get there and collected reimbursements.

Stephen John Longstaff, 55, of Chelsea, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Bangor by Justice John A. Woodcock Jr. for filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims for travel benefits to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He was ordered to pay back $17,361 for the false claims.

According to a prosecution document filed with the court, Longstaff made 156 false claims for Veterans Affairs travel benefits between June 2009 and February 2012.

He claimed he was traveling to Togus for treatment from locations in Washington and Hancock counties.

For example, the prosecution memo said that on Feb. 15, 2012, Longstaff signed a patient data card saying he was due reimbursement for a 358-mile round-trip to the Washington County town of Charlotte.

Investigators found that while Longstaff’s ex-wife and daughter do live there, Longstaff told them he had never been there. Longstaff also claimed to live in Hancock County.

Reimbursement was paid at 41 cents per mile then.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine says VA travel benefits are reimbursements for travel expenses paid to individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria and who must travel to receive VA services.

A VA investigators conducted surveillance of Longstaff, taking photos of Longstaff’s green Subaru Legacy at his home on Hallowell Road in Chelsea. He told investigators he has lived mostly in the Augusta area.

According to court documents, Longstaff has said he accepts responsibility for the offense and had waived his right to appeal the sentence.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.