“Nightline” Coffee Shop Owner Sentenced to Prison for Disability Fraud

Beyond the Numbers

Date: 
Monday, June 30, 2014
Posted by: 
The Office of External Relations

The cliché, “Crime doesn’t pay,” recently rang true, as Cory Eglash, former owner and operator of a coffee shop called, of all names, “Criminal Coffee,” was sentenced to prison for defrauding Social Security.

In May, ABC’s “Nightline” highlighted Eglash, 52, and his partner Ramona Hayes’ plot to collect Social Security disability payments they weren’t eligible to receive. “Nightline” examined the case as part of a feature story on our efforts to detect and prevent disability fraud.   

Hayes, 41—who was found to have fraudulently collected $42,000 in disability—pled guilty prior to trial in January and was sentenced to a year in prison in February.

A jury found Eglash—who fraudulently applied for disability—guilty of making false statements and conspiracy in January. When the “Nightline” feature aired, Eglash was awaiting sentencing.

But on June 20, a U.S. District Judge in Washington State sentenced Eglash to 15 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release for his role in the disability scam uncovered by our investigators.   

We’re mentioning this news not only because it brings a successful close to an OIG case featured on national television, but also because cases like this serve as powerful messages to the public about our commitment to bring perpetrators to justice. 

Hayes was collecting disability when Eglash’s “malingering”—or falsely presenting medical ailments—during his disability application process prompted the Cooperative Disability Investigations, or CDI team, in Seattle to take a closer look at Eglash and Hayes; CDI connected the two because they listed each other on their application to SSA.

It soon seemed something more than coffee was brewing on San Juan Island near Washington.

Eglash and Hayes worked side-by-side in the coffeehouse, further perpetrating their fraud as they dished out food and drinks seemingly effortlessly, in contrast to their severe physical and mental limitations as reported to SSA.  

The CDI team, over time, uncovered the couple’s ruse to defraud Social Security disability. Check out the “Nightline” feature for more on the investigation and interviews with OIG Special Agent Joe Rogers and Inspector General Patrick O’Carroll.

Hayes pled guilty for her role in defrauding SSA and the State of Washington, which also provided her food and cash assistance. In addition to her jail sentence, Hayes also has to repay $42,088 to SSA and $15,537 to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.    

Eglash, for conspiring with Hayes, was also ordered to jointly repay the $42,088 to SSA, plus a $10,000 fine to the Federal Government, and a $600 Special Assessment to the court.  

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Wilkinson, who serves as part of a partnership between SSA’s Office of General Counsel and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle.