RIPLEY – An Evans man faces a charge of fraudulent schemes and remains lodged in the South Central Regional Jail in lieu of $3,000 bond, after he allegedly falsely portrayed himself as a “homeless veteran” and received some $826 in benefits from a local veterans support group under false pretenses.
Gabriel Wayne Custer, 40, of Evans, was arrested and charged by JCBI Detective Ross Mellinger and Deputy L. M. Casto of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, following their investigation of a complaint lodged by members of Operation Jackson County Veterans.
Mellinger was contacted on December 19 with a complaint against Custer who had allegedly claimed to be a homeless military veteran passing through Jackson County with a female purported to be his wife and needing help.
The group provided Custer and the female with numerous articles of clothing, footwear, coats, a cell phone, meal cards at a local restaurant and several nights lodging at Super 8 Motel.
The group originally made contact with Custer when he was soliciting the public near Wal-Mart holding a “Homeless Veteran” sign along the roadway. The group later came to doubt Custer’s story and the legitimacy of his alleged military service.
Mellinger and Casto confronted Custer at his room at the local motel, and after extensive questioning, Custer allegedly admitted he had not completed basic training with the , and had posed as a veteran to gain the benefits from the local group.
Custer also admitted that he been staying with his grandmother at her Evans residence and wasn’t really “homeless.” The investigators also found a vehicle parked near the motel registered to Custer’s grandmother.
Custer allegedly would take the vehicle and leave his grandmother without transportation. He allegedly would drive the vehicle to Ripley and hold his “Homeless Veteran” sign near Wal-Mart in a continuing effort to solicit funds and benefits from the public at large.
Mellinger and Casto subsequently arrested and charged Custer with one count of fraudulent schemes.