Gahanna resident Rita Green, 55, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Nov. 13 to theft of public money by illegally receiving Department of Veterans Affairs Dependency Indemnity Compensation benefits.

Gahanna resident Rita Green, 55, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Nov. 13 to theft of public money by illegally receiving Department of Veterans Affairs Dependency Indemnity Compensation benefits.

Several officials, including Carter M. Stewart, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced the plea entered into before U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.

Green kept $89,646 of VA benefits to which she knew she was not entitled, according to court records.

Green's mother was a recipient of the benefits, which are paid to surviving spouses of veterans who died in the line of duty or from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated while on active duty.

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Those benefits were paid monthly to a bank account in the name of Green's mother, who died in 2009.

The VA was unaware of her death and continued depositing money into her account.

Green kept the account open and converted the money to her own use by withdrawing funds and making purchases using a debit card in her mother's name, according to court records.

Green also failed to disclose the VA payments on a Free Application for Federal Student Aid submitted in 2012.

Theft of public money is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Green is a former Columbus police officer.

In 1991, Green's 2-year-old son fatally shot himself with her .38-caliber revolver at their home, according to The Columbus Dispatch. She was a DARE officer at the time. The boy, Rico Green, found the loaded pistol under a bed and fired a single shot into his face, according to Dispatch stories at the time.

Police classified the death as accidental.

In 2002, Green was stripped of her badge and gun during an investigation of dereliction of duty after she was accused of standing by while her son beat up a woman, according to The Dispatch. That case eventually was dismissed, according to court records, and Green returned to duty.