HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Philadelphia-area man who once sought food stamps for his service dog was charged with perjury on Wednesday after prosecutors concluded his claims of severe disability were bogus.
James George Douris, 59, of Newtown, was charged with lying in separate court proceedings in 2011 and earlier this year.
Bucks County authorities said that in May, Douris told a judge he was not able to walk or hold a glass of water, and that he had not been properly served with court documents because he was unable to pick up papers left at his door.
That case, for which he was charged with perjury and false swearing, was a lawsuit against him over a bill that he allegedly had not paid to a restoration and cleaning service.
Investigators said they have photos of Douris performing maintenance on his property and other activities that included building a large backyard play set, sealing a driveway and unloading a wheelchair from a vehicle. He also was photographed using a leaf blower on his roof and a ladder to paint his house.
“Given enough time and enough rope he ventured into two different courts in Bucks County and told what we believe are demonstrable lies — whoppers, in fact,” Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said.
Douris also is accused of perjury, forgery, tampering with or fabricating evidence and false swearing for his testimony in a November 2011 hearing about a claim of faulty work by a tree service. Police said he made up records that purported to show work another company performed to fix the purportedly shoddy work.
Prosecutors said Douris has filed 15 civil lawsuits in federal district court since 1999, often portraying himself as severely disabled.
Heckler said he is concerned there may be other victims who have been reluctant to come forward because of Douris’ history of litigation.
Douris lost a 2010 Commonwealth Court case after trying to qualify his dog as a household member for the purposes of getting food stamps. He had said the dog ate everything he ate, and that denying the male boxer food stamps would effectively kill him and constitute an act of animal cruelty.
Despite ruling against him, the judge in that case expressed sympathy for Douris, who had claimed he lived alone and needed the dog to pull his wheelchair and fetch things for him.
A district judge arraigned him on Wednesday and set bail at $100,000, unsecured, for each of the two cases. He did not have a lawyer at the arraignment.