Source: USAO District of Oregon
EUGENE, Ore. – Carel June Cody, 47, of Cottage Grove, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for her theft of Social Security benefits that spanned more than 16 years. In addition to prison, Cody was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $203,528. Cody has also agreed to relinquish her federal Thrift Savings Plan retirement fund, worth approximately $36,000, to the government as well as her Cottage Grove residence.
According to Cody’s admissions and court records, Cody’s scheme to defraud began in 1996 when Cody concealed the death of John Arnold, who had been in her care, and buried his body on rural private property. Each month thereafter when Arnold’s Social Security retirement benefits were electronically deposited to his bank account, Cody forged Arnold’s name on checks payable to herself. The scheme was discovered when a relative of Cody’s husband, Ernest “Bud” Cook, found a letter written by Cook in 1996 describing the death of Arnold and the theft by Cody.
Calling Cody’s actions “an abuse of trust,” U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ann Aiken stated, “You became a person everyone is afraid of. We never will know what Mr. Arnold’s final days were like. I don’t know if you can ever get enough therapy to correct what you did.”
“The relentless team effort of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is making a substantial impact on Social Security fraud in Oregon,” said United States Attorney Amanda Marshall. “These are important cases because when we hold these fraudsters accountable, we recoup stolen funds for the Social Security program and deter others from committing these crimes.”
Cook was sentenced to five years of probation for his receipt of stolen government property and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service for each year he is on supervision.
The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Roseburg Police Department, and was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen L. Cooper, as part of a partnership venture between the Social Security Administration Office of General Counsel and the United States Attorney’s Office.