From the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico:
ALBUQUERQUE – Yesterday a federal judge entered an order finding Steven Michael Allumbaugh, 63, of Carlsbad, N.M., guilty on theft of government money and property charges following a bench trial in Dec. 2013. The charges underlying the guilty verdict arose out of Allumbaugh’s illegal conduct in intentionally concealing his father’s death from the Social Security Administration and misusing his father’s Social Security benefits for his personal use for almost a year.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said, “The Social Security Administration relies on the honesty and good faith of Social Security recipients and their families to report information that impacts continuing entitlement. The guilty verdict in this case should assure the public that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the integrity of federal entitlement programs.”
“Concealing a family member’s death to collect the deceased’s Social Security benefits for personal use is an intolerable offense,” said Ron Jesz, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Dallas Field Division. “Our office is committed to pursuing all forms of fraud, waste and abuse involving Social Security's programs, especially cases of deceased payee fraud.”
Allumbaugh was arrested in Aug. 2013, on a criminal complaint charging him with theft of government funds. He subsequently was indicted and charged with fraudulently obtaining Social Security payments. In Dec. 2013, Allumbaugh waived his right to a jury trial and agreed to proceed to trial before a federal judge on a two-count felony information charging him with theft of government money and property. The information charged Allumbaugh with stealing an aggregate of $19,537.20 in money belonging to the Social Security Administration between Jan. 3, 2012 and Dec. 3, 2012, while knowing that he was not entitled to that money.
The order finding Allumbaugh guilty found that the trial evidence established that Allumbaugh’s father was receiving Social Security retirement benefits in the monthly amount of $1400.00 when he died on Jan. 4, 2012. Allumbaugh concealed his father’s death and did not report it to the Social Security Administration. Because it was unaware of the father’s death, the Social Security Administration continued to pay the father’s monthly benefits through Jan. 2013 via direct deposit into his bank account. From Jan. 2012 through Dec. 2012, Allumbaugh’s mother drew 17 checks on the bank account and made them payable to Allumbaugh, and he accepted and cashed each of the checks. In addition, Allumbaugh withdrew money from the bank account at automatic teller machines.
The trial evidence included the testimony of a Special Agent with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General who interviewed Allumbaugh in April 2013. The Special Agent testified that during the interview, Allumbaugh admitted using his father’s Social Security benefits after his father died and apologized for doing so. The Agent also testified about a written statement prepared by Allumbaugh in which he admitted knowing that he was not entitled to his father’s Social Security benefits, that he continued to receive and use his father’s benefits after his father’s death, and that he failed to inform the Social Security Administration that his father had died because the “death was covered up.”
Allumbaugh has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Allumbaugh faces a statutory maximum sentence of ten years in prison when he is sentenced.
This case was investigated by the Dallas Field Office of the Office of Investigations of the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Roswell office of the FBI, and the Carlsbad Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Saltman of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.