A Helena man was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation for lying about being married, which the federal government says allowed his family to illegally receive $33,318 in Social Security income.
Jeffrey Milliron was ordered by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell to pay back the money, and spend six months of his sentence on home arrest.
In court documents, Milliron disputed that he shouldn’t have received the Social Security, saying that his wife is disabled and tax returns show that his tattoo parlor didn’t make any money.
“That facts are that Milliron is totally disabled because of his medical conditions and unable to work and he receives SSI disability benefits,” his attorney, James Obie, wrote. “His wife is 100 percent disabled … and Milliron provides necessary care for her. Milliron has taken responsibility for his action of making a false statement, but he rightfully denies that there is any loss to SSA from his actions.”
Tim Racicot, an assistant U.S. attorney, countered that Milliron hid the marriage from the government because he knew if they found out the payments would stop.
“Instead of pursuing administrative avenues, Milliron and his wife both lied to the SSA (Social Security Administration) about their marriage, their living arrangements, and her employment, in an effort to stay eligible,” Racicot wrote. “Importantly, Milliron told the investigating agent that he lied about the marriage because he knew it would affect his wife’s eligibility for disability benefits.”
Racicot said that if the case had gone to trial, he would have proved that in April 2010, the SSA received information from Lewis and Clark County’s Office of Public Assistance that Milliron’s wife, a longtime recipient of Supplemental Security Income, was married and working at a tattoo shop in Helena. Marital status, living arrangements and employment are among the factors that SSA analyzes in order to determine eligibility for benefits.
Initially, both Milliron and his wife denied being married and her working at his tattoo parlor. A year later, Milliron’s probation officer was interviewed and stated that he observed the two living together every time he visited Milliron and that the wife worked at the tattoo parlor. Another probation officer provided similar information, noting that Milliron reported living with the woman since at least January 2007.
When confronted with his marriage license, Milliron admitted that he was married, that his wife made between $100 to $800 per month working with him and that he made a false statement to the SSA.