United States Attorneys Justin E. Herdman and Benjamin C. Glassman announced charges brought in eight separate Social Security fraud and other benefits cases statewide.
The cases are part of the national Social Security Administration (SSA) Fraud Prosecution Project, a collaboration with SSA’s Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Justice. From early 2016 to date, Special Assistant United States Attorneys around the country have secured over 300 federal convictions, leading to judicial orders for more than $34 million in restitution to SSA and other agencies.
In Ohio, eight individuals were charged this month with stealing Social Security and other retirement benefits totaling more than $796,000. The defendants illegally collected Social Security benefits that were paid to a deceased relative or friend in seven of the eight cases. In one case, the defendant stole the identity of a living 65-year-old doctor and used it to collect the doctor’s Social Security benefits.
In the Northern District of Ohio, Special Assistant United States Attorney Lisa J. Sanniti indicted three cases.
Norman C. Thompson, III, 47, of Chagrin Falls, is charged for allegedly wrongfully converted his deceased mother’s Title II disability benefits. Every month after his mother’s death, defendant intercepted checks from the Social Security Administration issued to his mother. Thompson signed his mother’s name and his own to endorse and deposit the checks, causing a total loss of approximately $39,000.
From approximately November 2011 through May 2017, James C. Bohanon, Jr., 69, of Cleveland, allegedly wrongfully received and converted to his own use approximately $48,000 from his deceased wife’s Supplemental Security Income. In addition, he received financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and was obligated to report his income accurately to his residential property management each year. Bohanon concealed his receipt of his deceased wife’s Social Security benefits from HUD, and, as a result, received approximately $38,500 in Housing Assistance Payments to which he was not entitled.
Alturik R. Plummer, 51, of University Heights, allegedly wrongfully converted his deceased grandmother’s Title II Retirement Insurance benefits from approximately August 2013 through October 2016, causing a loss of approximately $45,000.
“These defendants stole tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayers,” said Herdman, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “We will continue to work with all our law enforcement partners to root out fraud, including those who steal from Social Security.”
In the Southern District of Ohio, Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Landry is prosecuting five cases.
Jesse Larry, 71, of Columbus, Curtis Joash, 73, of Cincinnati and Dolores Stacy, 70, of Hamilton were each charged by criminal complaint for allegedly illegally collecting Social Security benefits paid to their respective mothers after their deaths. Each defendant was a co-signatory on their mother’s savings or checking account, allowing them to withdraw the Social Security money each month.
Larry collected $273,000 in benefits that were paid to his mother after she died in 1993, Joash collected nearly $188,000 since his mother’s death in 1990 and Stacy collected nearly $121,000 since her mother died in 2005.
Era Jenkinson, 42, of Columbus, was also charged by criminal complaint for allegedly illegally collected nearly $29,000 in Social Security benefits that were paid to her for the benefit of another person.
Jenkinson had been serving as the person’s representative payee, and therefore was responsible for notifying Social Security when the person died in 2015. Instead, it is alleged that Jenkinson spent the benefits on her own expenses after the person died. In April 2017, Jenkinson allegedly had a friend pose as the deceased person in a telephone call with a Social Security employee in an attempt to convince Social Security that the person was still alive.
Chucky Scott, 25, of Columbus, was charged by a Bill of Information. Scott is scheduled to plead guilty in U.S. District Court next week, and, according to the plea agreement, filed a claim for retirement benefits using the identity of a 65-year-old doctor, but using Scott’s own address to receive the payments. In this manner, Scott illegally collected approximately $14,500 in Social Security benefits.
“Taking Social Security benefits intended for another is a theft from all of us,” said Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. “Through our partnership with the Social Security Administration, the Southern District of Ohio is cracking down on this fraud as never before.”
Through its Fraud Prosecution Project, the Department of Justice and SSA pool legal resources to prosecute individuals who defraud Social Security programs. SSA’s Office of the General Counsel currently employs agency attorneys to serve as Special Assistant United States Attorneys in 13 United States Attorney Offices, two of which are located in the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio, to lead these prosecution efforts.
For more information on SSA’s Fraud Prosecution Project and the agency’s other anti-fraud efforts, please visit https://www.ssa.gov/antifraudfacts/.