Ex-veterans affairs official in South Jersey is back in legal trouble

William Devereaux had been sentenced to five years of probation for securing military benefits by falsifying records.
William Devereaux had been sentenced to five years of probation for securing military benefits by falsifying records. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 06, 2011

A former New Jersey veterans affairs official who avoided prison after he falsified records that exaggerated his military disability was brought back before a judge Friday for violating probation.

William Devereaux, 66, of Laurel Springs, was told by Superior Court Judge Irvin Snyder in Camden that if he continued to violate probation, he might land in prison.

In April 2010, Snyder sentenced Devereaux to five years probation for securing military benefits by falsifying records. For several years, Devereaux received tax breaks and other benefits. After he was charged, he agreed to reimburse $54,132 in taxes to Laurel Springs.

At his sentencing, the Vietnam War veteran acknowledged it was a "horrible mistake" to embellish his service record, but insisted that his war experiences left him 100 percent disabled.

He tried to withdraw his guilty plea because he had been working for a law firm where he helped other veterans. He was not permitted to change his plea, and the judge would not remove a stipulation that prohibited Devereaux from working with veterans for the five years he was on probation.

Devereaux also was required to forfeit his position with the state's Division of Veterans Services and prohibited from holding any job with the State of New Jersey.

On Friday, authorities said Devereaux had worked as a volunteer with veterans in Willingboro from May to October 2010, assisting them with claims related to requests for records.

"Bill Devereaux is Bill Devereaux's own worst enemy," Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Chase said at Friday's hearing.

Devereaux was appointed director of veterans programs for the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs by Gov. Jim McGreevey.

Although Devereaux claimed he was 100 percent disabled, the military said he was only temporarily disabled.

Authorities said Devereaux also lied about being in combat and receiving combat medals, including a Purple Heart, the Soldiers Medal, and the Bronze Star with "V" device.

Devereaux claimed he was a paratrooper and artilleryman, exchanged fire with enemy combatants, was involved in a friendly fire incident, and was injured multiple times, authorities said.

Investigators found that Devereaux was never a paratrooper or artilleryman. He served as a finance clerk in South Vietnam for four months and 11 days in 1968. Authorities said they found no record of combat medals or combat injuries.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is continuing an investigation of falsified records, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838 or bboyer@phillynews.com.

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