Woman who embellished husband’s wartime injuries ordered to surrender $110K truck. Feds found it in Kentucky.

Josephine Perez-Gorda ordered to appear in federal court in San Antonio on Jan. 15 for show cause hearing

Josephine Perez-Gorda (right) walks into federal court in March. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A Dripping Springs woman who embellished her husband’s wartime injuries to carry out a years-long fraud scheme against the government has been ordered to appear in federal court in San Antonio after a truck she was supposed to hand over as part of restitution was instead found being driven by a man in Kentucky.

Josephine Perez-Gorda, 40, and the man found in possession of the truck, Franklin Powell, were ordered to be in court Jan. 15 for a show cause hearing, according to an order signed by Judge Fred Biery last week.

A jury in September 2022 found Perez-Gorda guilty of all 18 counts against her, which ranged from wire fraud to making false statements related to health care matters and theft of government funds.

For nearly six years, from 2011 to 2017, Perez-Gorda falsely told federal agencies that her husband, Army Specialist Justin Perez-Gorda, was paralyzed from the belly button down.

Justin Perez-Gorda suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Afghanistan in early 2011.

While the couple claimed in Veterans Affairs and Social Security paperwork that he had lost the use of his lower extremities, footage gathered by federal investigators showed Justin Perez-Gorda walking.

Biery in March sentenced Josephine Perez-Gorda to serve 46 months in prison.

She began serving her sentence this summer.

She was also ordered to serve three years of community supervision after her release and owes more than $501,000 in restitution.

Perez-Gorda was ordered to preserve all assets

Days after Josephine Perez-Gorda was sentenced, DOJ officials moved to freeze her assets.

A restraining order filed in her criminal case in late March prohibited Perez-Gorda from transferring, dissipating, leasing or selling any of her assets.

In July, federal authorities filed paperwork to move forward with seizing Josephine Perez-Gorda’s 2021 Ford F250 Super Duty pickup truck.

However, when the person appointed to seize the truck attempted to do so earlier this month, it was no longer at Josephine Perez-Gorda’s home, court records show.

Josephine Perez-Gorda’s daughters repeatedly denied knowing where the truck was located.

Josephine Perez-Gorda’s counselor in prison later revealed to DOJ officials that the truck was with Powell in Elkton, Kentucky, north of Nashville, Tennessee.

DOJ officials made multiple attempts to call and text message Powell but he did not respond, court records show.

The DOJ eventually contacted local law enforcement in Kentucky, which was able to track down the truck and gather evidence that Powell was in possession of it.

During Josephine Perez-Gorda’s sentencing, Biery had repeatedly taken issue with her actions while awaiting trial, including buying a $110,000 truck while the criminal case against her was ongoing and while she was represented by a court-appointed attorney.

A source with the Department of Justice told KSAT on Monday the truck is the same one tracked down by authorities in Kentucky.

The truck has yet to be returned to federal authorities.

Its resell value has been diminished by being taken out of state, court records show.

Josephine Perez-Gorda is currently being housed at a federal minimum security prison camp in Brazos County. Her anticipated release date is August 2026, Federal Bureau of Prisons records show.

Biery’s show cause order requires Josephine Perez-Gorda to be transferred from the prison to his court in San Antonio for the January hearing.

Powell, who has not been criminally charged, must also appear in person, court records show.

Justin Perez-Gorda died while in federal custody in Missouri while awaiting trial early last year.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.