Office of Investigations (OI) Case
Shop Owner Convicted of Selling Counterfeit Social Security Cards
Working jointly with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), our Ft. Lauderdale, Florida office conducted an investigation of a print shop owner who sold a cooperating witness a total of four sets of counterfeit Social Security cards and work authorization cards. A search warrant was executed in December 2005, and Federal agents found hundreds of blank counterfeit documents, including Social Security cards, Florida identification cards, Bahamian work authorization permits, Massachusetts and Florida certificates of vehicle title, Florida marriage certificates, Florida traffic school certificates, and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation nursing certificates.
In April 2006, the print shop owner was found guilty of selling counterfeit Social Security cards, aggravated identity theft, fraud and misuse of permits, and possession with intent to transfer five or more false identification documents. He was sentenced to 65 months in Federal prison, 3 years of supervised release, a $25,000 fine, and a $1,200 special assessment.
Man Sentenced to 27 Months for Theft of Disability Benefits
Our Chicago office investigated a man collecting Title II disability benefits for himself and his two children, while owning and operating a limousine service. Interviews conducted with his employees, insurance company employees, and family and friends, as well as records obtained from the Bloomington Police Department and various State sources, indicate that he worked the entire time he was receiving benefits.
The man was indicted on theft of government funds, pled guilty, and was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $112,110 to SSA.
Man Freezes Mother’s Body In Order to Collect Benefits
An investigation conducted by our Milwaukee office, with assistance from various Federal and local law enforcement agencies, revealed that from August 2000 until April 2005, a man concealed his mother’s death by placing her body in a chest freezer. When asked about his mother’s death, the man explained that she died of natural causes in August 2000, and he hid her body because he did not want to be blamed for her death and because he wanted to keep collecting her Social Security benefits. During that period, he collected approximately $35,690 from SSA.
The man pled guilty to Social Security fraud and was sentenced to 4 months in prison and 4 months of community confinement. His prison sentence will be served concurrent to a State sentence he is already serving for attempted first-degree murder, first-degree reckless endangerment while armed, and hiding a corpse. Following his prison term, he will be on supervised release for 2 years and will serve 120 days at a residential reentry center. The man’s attorney indicated that most of the Social Security money was repaid from money police found in the man’s house and in his bank account.
St. Louis Disability Beneficiary Operates Carpet Cleaning Business
Our office in St. Louis, Missouri investigated a St. Louis woman who had collected Title II disability benefits since 1999, while owning and operating a carpet cleaning business. SSA advised that the woman had made numerous statements denying her work activity. Agents conducted surveillance of the woman on numerous occasions, and ultimately interviewed her at work. She admitted to wrongdoing and provided a sworn, written statement to our agents.
The woman pled guilty to making false statements to SSA. She was sentenced to 3
months’ home confinement and 5 years’ probation, and ordered to pay a court fine of $100 and restitution of $122,125 to SSA.
SSI Recipient Ordered to Repay $52,000 for Concealing Income
Our St. Louis, Missouri office investigated a case of a woman receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits who failed to report information to SSA. The woman concealed a retirement account, casino earnings, security trades, and her true living arrangements. These items placed her over SSI income limits, making her ineligible for SSI benefits from September 1996 to December 2004.
The woman admitted that she failed to report the information, accepted responsibility for her actions, and offered to repay the full amount to SSA. She was charged with one count of failure to report and sentenced to serve 6 months’ home confinement and 5 years’ probation. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $52,076 and a special assessment of $100.
Man Steals Identity of Terminally Ill Individual to Avoid Prosecution
Agents in our New York office, in conjunction with the ICE El Dorado Task Force, discovered that a 42-year-old man had used the identity of several individuals, including some who had the exact name as his own.
The man (who had a prior bank fraud conviction) attempted to fake his own death in order to avoid prosecution. He later told a judge that the death hoax was an attempt to gain more time to get a lawyer, rather than to avoid prosecution.
Our investigation revealed that the man had contacted at least 12 hospitals and hospices in the New York area to find a terminally ill individual with the same name as his own, in order to assume that identity. In November 2005, he reported to his defense attorney that he was a terminally ill hospice patient, and gave the lawyer the hospice contact information. In December 2005, the defense attorney, after calling the hospice and learning that the individual with the same name as his client had died, reported this information to the prosecutor.
The man’s scheme was revealed due to the persistence of the prosecutor, who did not accept the report of death as given by the man’s attorney. Further investigation by our agent proved that the prosecutor’s suspicion was correct. The man was sentenced to 96 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
Boyfriend Convicted in Law Student’s Death
The testimony of a special agent from our New York office was instrumental in the conviction of the former boyfriend of a 24-year-old Connecticut law school student who disappeared in 1999 and was later found to have been murdered. Prosecutors said that the boyfriend killed the law student when she told him she was not going to marry him. The first-semester law student left the school on a Friday afternoon to return to her family's home but never arrived. According to the boyfriend, he and his brother killed her in November 1999 and disposed of her body. The woman’s body was never recovered.
Our special agent testified to the woman’s Social Security account information from January 2000 to the present, the time period during which she was reported missing. The agent testified that wages were posted to the woman’s account until her disappearance, but no work activity was recorded after that time. In May 2006, the boyfriend was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 27 ½ years in prison.