Arkansas Man Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Misusing $297,000 Intended for Disabled Relative

Date: 
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Office Affiliation: 

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas:

LITTLE ROCK—Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Robert Feldt, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Dallas Field Division of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SSA/OIG), announced today that Thomas “Dale” Sass, 50, of Monticello, was sentenced by United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker to 57 months’ imprisonment for theft of government funds. Sass was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $297,516 to his former sister-in-law.

Sass waived an indictment and pled guilty to one count of theft of government funds on August 25, 2016, arising from his use for himself of money meant for the care of a disabled relative.

Sass, in 1997, became the guardian of his former sister-in-law, who was severely injured in a car accident that left her in a coma for a year and killed her son. Subsequent to the accident, the former sister-in-law began receiving monthly disbursements from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and a private insurance company. Sass received and had control over disbursements made to his former sister-in-law in order to provide for her care.

Sass violated his fiduciary duty and defrauded the SSA by using the victim’s funds for his own benefit. At times, Sass even failed to pay the victim’s caretakers. Sass further defrauded the SSA by forging his brother’s name on the SSA checks in order to continue receiving the SSA money.

Harris stated, “We are vigilant in our prosecution of people who take advantage of the elderly, children, and disabled in our community and this prosecution is one more example of our efforts to protect their well-being and what is in their best interests.”

Robert G. Feldt, Special Agent-in-Charge stated that, “the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SSA/OIG) will tirelessly investigate and bring to justice those who commit SSA program fraud and misuse their position of trust to victimize vulnerable beneficiaries.”

This investigation was conducted by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General and the Arkansas Department of Insurance, Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erin O’Leary.