Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn couple steals identity of Army veteran, reaps benefits, and jumping bail

March 30, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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BROOKLYN — A Brooklyn man and woman have been sentenced to jail and probation for stealing the identity of a U.S. Army veteran to fraudulently obtain government benefits, including $35,000 in rent subsidies for their Section 8 apartment.

Kevin Middleton, 41, and Tonni Chapman, 50, have been sentenced to five months in jail and five years of probation, after they pleaded guilty to a range of charges including first-degree identity theft, offering a false instrument for filing, and bail jumping.

“Today’s sentence holds the defendants accountable for stealing the identity of a U.S. Army veteran and receiving benefits to which they were not entitled,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “Thanks to the hard work of my prosecutors and our law enforcement partners, we were able to restore this veteran’s good name.”

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According to the investigation, in Feb. 2018, Middleton posed as Kevin Chapman and obtained a non-driver’s license identification card from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles in Chapman’s name, but with Middleton’s photograph. He also obtained a replacement Social Security card and forged Chapman’s signature onto the card.

Middleton then went to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs office in Manhattan and applied for a replacement VA card in Chapman’s name using the fraudulently obtained identification. The VA expedited the couple’s Section 8 housing application, and they received more than $35,000 in rent subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The victim in this case is Kevin Chapman, the ex-husband of Tonni Chapman. The defendants applied for benefits using his identity, including from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and received approximately $1,000 in benefits.

In 2019, Middleton failed to appear in court, and a bench warrant was issued for Kevin Chapman. Following an investigation, the couple was indicted in 2021 and arrested after failing to appear again. They were arrested in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Jan. 24, 2023, and charged with bail jumping before being returned to Brooklyn on Feb. 9, 2023.

“These defendants preyed upon a U.S. Army veteran, stealing his identification to fraudulently obtain government benefits that included more than $35,000 in rent subsidies for their New York City Housing Authority apartment,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber. “Today’s sentence shows that committing identity theft to steal public funds has serious consequences, and I thank the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”

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