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'Disabled' mail carrier ran fitness center for years, now headed to prison

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A Maryland letter carrier who ran a day spa and fitness center while collecting federal disability checks was sentenced Wednesday to a combined 10 months of prison and home detention for making false claims.

Darlene Altvater, 48, will spend five months in prison followed by five more in home detention, plus three years of supervised release after being convicted of two counts of making false statements to obtain federal disability benefits, according to a Justice Department news release.

Altvater was a rural carrier at the Mechanicsville Post Office when she hurt her head and neck, and filed for federal disability benefits in 2001.

From January 2005 through December 2011, while still claiming to be injured and collecting disability benefits, Altvater operated a salon, day spa and fitness center, first in Leonardtown and later California, both communities in Maryland.

The businesses operated under the names LadySlender LLC, Creative Touch Salon and Spa, and California Fitness LLC, according to the release.

Although she claimed in federal disability forms to be unable to work due to her injuries, witnesses testified during the five-day trial that Altvater reported to the businesses on a regular basis, doing tasks that included demonstrating the use of fitness equipment, performing pedicures and giving massages, the release states.

Alvater was also ordered to pay restitution, but the exact amount has not been determined.

Inspectors general from the U.S. Postal Service and Department of Labor investigated the case.

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