Booker T. Washington is credited with saying, “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” This quote rings true for today’s fraudster, a clinical psychologist, who partnered with a West Virginia judge and a Kentucky lawyer to commit Social Security fraud. Together, they carried out a scheme to cause $550 million in federal disability payments to be paid out for thousands of claimants who didn’t qualify to receive them. (And, I bet the psychologist is now wishing he had avoided associating with bad company.)
Today’s blog is a follow-on to a previously written “Fraud of the Day” concerning this heinous crime. Just to bring you up to speed, here’s what you need to know: a West Virginia judge colluded with a Kentucky lawyer by the last name Conn (perfect name for a criminal, right?) to identify disability cases that he could push through the system. In exchange for the judge’s approval of disability benefits, the lawyer would pay a kickback. (In all, the judge received $690,000 for granting undeserved Social Security benefits.)
But, before the judge could grant benefits, the clinical psychologist had to sign off on medical evaluations forms that the lawyer had previously prepared, which sealed the illegal deal. (The psychologist received $200,000 from the lawyer for signing the fraudulent medical forms. In many cases, the doctor did not review the forms before signing on the dotted line which declared the claimants to be physically or mentally disabled.)
The 46-year-old Pikeville, Kentucky clinical psychologist was found guilty of Social Security fraud after a six-day trial. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay $93 million in restitution to the Social Security Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services. (Interestingly, compared to his criminal associates, he received a much heavier sentence than the other two.)
The West Virginia judge pleaded guilty to his part in the Social Security fraud scheme and was sentenced to four years in prison. The lawyer also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years behind bars. Here’s the interesting part though – the lawyer somehow evaded his electronic monitoring device and is now considered a fugitive. (I’m guessing his last name was the next thing he tried to dump. We’ll see how long he can elude being captured with the $7 million in attorney fees he received from the illegal scheme.) Stay tuned for the rest of the story in this Social Security fraud saga.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a press release from the Office of Inspector General of the Social Security Administration entitled, “Former Clinical Psychologist Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Role in $550 Million Social Security Disability Fraud Scheme,” released on September 22, 2017.
A former Kentucky clinical psychologist was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $550 million in federal disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for thousands of claimants.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General’s (SSA-OIG) Philadelphia Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI’s Louisville Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Tracey D. Montaño of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Nashville Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Regional Office made the announcement.