Rhode Island Man Charged with Social Security Fraud and Identity Theft

Date: 
Friday, July 26, 2013
Office Affiliation: 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A five-count federal indictment returned on Wednesday and unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Providence charges Henry A. Fellela, Jr., 55, of Johnston, with obtaining the identity of a Smithfield resident and using that person’s identity and credit card to purchase more than $3,000 worth of goods. In addition, the indictment alleges that Fellela fraudulently obtained more than $58,000 in Supplementary Social Security benefits by falsely claiming that he was homeless while living with his wife and children in their Johnston residence.

The indictment, announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Kevin M. Niland, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, Smithfield Police Chief Steven G. Bowman and Scott E. Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations, charges Fellela with one count each of credit card fraud, aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud, and two counts of theft of government funds.

According to the indictment and information presented to the court, it is alleged that an investigation by U.S. Postal inspectors and Smithfield Police revealed that Fellela stole the identity of a Smithfield resident and used that person’s identity and credit card to make several purchases including electronic goods and clothing totaling $3,077.13.

In addition, according to the indictment and information presented to the court, an investigation by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations determined that from March 2004, approximately three months after Fellela was released from federal prison to begin serving a 21-month term of supervised release on an unrelated matter, and continuing until about June 1, 2012, Fellela allegedly claimed to be homeless, and applied for and received Supplementary Security Benefits totaling $58,207.34. It is alleged that during the time Fellela claimed to be homeless and was allegedly collecting benefit payments he was actually living with his wife and children in their Johnston residence. 

An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Fellela, who was arrested earlier today by U.S. Postal inspectors, Smithfield Police, Johnston Police and an agent from the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations, was arraigned before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan. A plea of not guilty was entered. Fellela was released on $50,000 unsecured bond to home incarceration with electronic monitoring.

If convicted, Fellela faces up to 10 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release and a fine $250,000 on the charge of credit card fraud; up to 10 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release and a fine $250,000 on each charge of theft of government property; 5 years imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 on the charge of Social Security fraud; and 2 years imprisonment for aggravated identity theft, to be served consecutive to all other sentences imposed. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Richard W. Rose.