Charles Adams never skips leg day — not even when filing claims with the Veterans Affairs for service-connected disabilities that would render such exercise impossible. And though thick thighs may save lives, Adams’ quads are now costing him wads.
The 50-year-old Army veteran pleaded guilty July 25 to theft of government funds after he admitted to stealing $106,245 in VA payments for disabilities resulting from fraudulent claims, the Justice Department determined.
According to court documents, the St. Louis, Missouri, resident applied for increased disability in 2017 “due to service-connected degenerative disc disease with degenerative arthritis.” As part of that application, Adams “reported difficulty getting out of bed some mornings and an inability to stand for extended lengths of time,” claims he maintained during ensuing medical evaluations.
A VA medical examiner noted in the court records that Adams walked with a noticeable limp during the evaluations and demonstrated “severe limitations in his range of motion, rotation, and other use of his back.”
Such claims soon became difficult to validate, however, when they were juxtaposed with the gym routines Adams shared to his Instagram account.
On the social media platform, the self-proclaimed certified personal trainer — who uses an email address that includes the phrase “fitnessbeast” — exhibited bodybuilding techniques that flew in the face of such disability proclamations.
Another claim Adams filed in 2018 for unemployability benefits, meanwhile, was accompanied by a doctor statement supporting Adams’ earlier assertions that he was limited in bending, stooping, twisting, kneeling, jumping, running, standing and lifting more than 25 pounds above shoulder height.
By March of that year, however, Adams was observed performing “various strenuous exercises with high levels of resistance, including deep squats, leg presses with over 800 pounds of resistance, rope pulldowns, and other high intensity exercises or movements that were inconsistent with the level of back limitations he demonstrated at his examinations,” Adams’ plea agreement stated.
Court documents also noted that Adams applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in August 2019. But upon investigation by the inspectors general of the Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration Office, it was discovered that Adams was checking into his gym around the time — and even once on the same day — of his application hearing.
“In June 2021, Defendant attended a medical review for the VA,” the court documents state. “Investigators watched as Adams walked normally and lifted and carried bags of trash before going to his examination. When he arrived for the examination, he used a cane to walk and did so at a much slower pace.”
During that time, Adams reportedly continued posting fitness content to his Instagram account and maintained a website for his personal training company, Tru-Legacy Fitness LLC, which claims to be “committed to giving 110% to help all those we can to achieve their ultimate fitness and wellness goals.”
Adams is now legally committed to giving back 100% of the disability funds he stole, according to his plea deal. Additionally, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.