First Guilty Plea in OIG Disability Fraud Investigation

Beyond the Numbers

Date: 
Friday, November 22, 2013
Posted by: 
The Office of External Relations
(Photo from Primera Hora newspaper in Puerto Rico.)

For Spanish translation, click here.

Our disability fraud investigation in Puerto Rico made national news in August of this year.  It continues to make news as these cases move through the judicial system.

We made 75 arrests in Puerto Rico during August 21-23, 2013,  working with our partners in the FBI, the Puerto Rico Police Department, and the United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.  These arrests were the culmination of over three and a half years of diligent and thorough investigation among our three agencies.  The arrest operation—our largest ever in a disability fraud case—was carefully planned and executed without incident. For detailed information on the case and how it evolved, read the testimony of the Inspector General, as he explained it to Congress in September. 

One of the subjects of this investigation, David Rodriguez Colon, was the first to face trial last month.  After only three days in court, he pled guilty for falsely claiming to have a medical condition that limited his ability to work.  Colon, who is 58 years old, faces a maximum of 5 years in prison and 3 years of supervised probation. 

With his guilty plea, Colon admitted to hiding his employment with a pharmaceutical company while receiving Social Security disability benefits due to a herniated lumbar and cervical disc.  During the trial, one of our special agents showed the jury videos of Mr. Colon walking normally and carrying a tray at a fast food restaurant in 2011. Although he claimed he could not drive because of his condition, the special agent also witnessed him carrying a school bag and putting it in the trunk of a car that he was operating.  

Our investigation in Puerto Rico is still ongoing, and our office has established a special telephone hotline—(855) 777-0821. We’ve received numerous calls and tips from people who may have knowledge of this or similar schemes in Puerto Rico. Many of our allegations come from people just like you, who may have a neighbor or relative who you’ve seen working while receiving disability benefits. This type of fraud against the Government hurts all of us, especially those who may truly need those funds in the future.  If you know someone committing fraud against Social Security, please report it to our Fraud Hotline

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