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Michigan Man, Former Restaurant Owner, Pleads Guilty to Social Security Disability Fraud

September 01, 2015

Office Affiliation: The Office of Investigations

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Michigan:

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Pablo Razo Fierro, 66, pled guilty today to Social Security Fraud. Fierro applied for and began receiving disability benefits in 1996, after claiming he had a back injury that prevented him from working. As part of the application process, he promised to notify the Social Security Administration if his health improved, or if he returned to work. In 2004, he opened “Pablo’s Tacos,” a popular Mexican restaurant in Muskegon. Fierro concealed his gainful employment from Social Security, because he knew it would lead to the termination of his disability benefits.

In 2008, the Muskegon Chronicle published a newspaper story and an internet video about the success of Pablo’s Tacos, and interviewed Fierro on camera. Fierro told the reporter he had been working long hours, nearly seven days a week, since opening the restaurant. The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation, and discovered Fierro had been fraudulently receiving disability payments for years. Federal agents interviewed Fierro, who admitted concealing his income so he could continue receiving disability, and admitted spending the money on car payments and other personal expenses.

After plea negotiations broke down in 2012, Fierro disappeared. On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Marshal’s Service arrested Fierro in Twin Lake, MI. Fierro admitted he fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution, but returned to the United States after family members mistakenly advised him that there was no pending warrant for his arrest. Fierro now faces up to five years in prison. The amount of restitution he must pay back will be determined at his sentencing.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Pablo Razo Fierro, 66, pled guilty today to Social Security Fraud. Fierro applied for and began receiving disability benefits in 1996, after claiming he had a back injury that prevented him from working. As part of the application process, he promised to notify the Social Security Administration if his health improved, or if he returned to work. In 2004, he opened “Pablo’s Tacos,” a popular Mexican restaurant in Muskegon. Fierro concealed his gainful employment from Social Security, because he knew it would lead to the termination of his disability benefits.

In 2008, the Muskegon Chronicle published a newspaper story and an internet video about the success of Pablo’s Tacos, and interviewed Fierro on camera. Fierro told the reporter he had been working long hours, nearly seven days a week, since opening the restaurant. The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation, and discovered Fierro had been fraudulently receiving disability payments for years. Federal agents interviewed Fierro, who admitted concealing his income so he could continue receiving disability, and admitted spending the money on car payments and other personal expenses.

After plea negotiations broke down in 2012, Fierro disappeared. On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Marshal’s Service arrested Fierro in Twin Lake, MI. Fierro admitted he fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution, but returned to the United States after family members mistakenly advised him that there was no pending warrant for his arrest. Fierro now faces up to five years in prison. The amount of restitution he must pay back will be determined at his sentencing.

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