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New York City Man Admits to Stealing Deceased Father's Social Security Benefits for 14 Years

August 15, 2017

Office Affiliation: The Office of Investigations

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York:

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John Grasso, the Special Agent in Charge of the United States Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, announced today the entry of a $330,284 consent judgment against TORRENCE ROBINSON (“ROBINSON”), a Bronx pastor and recently retired New York City assistant principal, for fraudulently misappropriating Social Security retirement benefits.  The consent judgment, along with a Stipulation and Order of Settlement (the “Stipulation”), resolves the United States’ civil claims against ROBINSON, brought under the False Claims Act in a complaint filed on October 5, 2016.  Both the consent judgment and Stipulation were entered today by U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Social Security is a critical but limited resource that millions of Americans depend on in retirement.  We will not tolerate abuse of this common good.  Relatives of deceased beneficiaries have an obligation to notify the Social Security Administration, and those who choose to pocket the cash will be held to account.”

Special Agent in Charge John Grasso said:  “This consent judgment should serve as a warning to people who choose to selfishly defraud the Social Security Trust Fund. Such individuals are not only liable for the money that they stole, but potentially additional monetary penalties under the False Claim Act.  Our Office vigorously pursues these cases criminally, civilly, and administratively to the fullest extent of the law.  I strongly encourage the public to report suspected instances of Social Security fraud to the OIG’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

This Office filed a civil fraud suit against ROBINSON under the False Claims Act and common law alleging that he misappropriated more than $200,000 in Social Security benefits between 1999 and 2013.  These benefits had been paid by the Social Security Administration to Robinson’s father after his father had died.  The False Claims Act was amended in 2009 to cover persons who knowingly conceal or improperly avoid repaying amounts owed to the Government, regardless of whether a false claim or statement is made.  Thus, those who misappropriate Social Security benefits paid to deceased relatives after 2009 may be subject to treble damages and penalties under the False Claims Act.  Up until 2009, the Government could recover only single damages in such cases, in common-law court actions.

Under the Stipulation, ROBINSON agreed to a judgment in the amount of $330,284, representing the amount of benefits he took plus additional damages under the False Claims Act for conduct occurring after the law was amended in 2009.

ROBINSON, 65, of New Windsor, New York, further admitted and accepted responsibility for misappropriating $214,994 in payments from the Social Security Administration.  Specifically, ROBINSON admitted that after his father died in 1999, ROBINSON maintained access to a joint bank account into which his father’s Social Security retirement benefits continued to be deposited, and ROBINSON redirected those funds for his own use until 2013.  During this time, ROBINSON was employed as the pastor of a Bronx church and as a New York City assistant principal, earning well over six figures from his positions.  ROBINSON also admitted that he was aware that he had no right to the payments and that he was obligated to inform the Social Security Administration of the death of his father and to return the payments, but failed to do so.

Mr. Kim thanked the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General for its investigative work.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cha-Kim is in charge of the case.

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York:

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John Grasso, the Special Agent in Charge of the United States Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, announced today the entry of a $330,284 consent judgment against TORRENCE ROBINSON (“ROBINSON”), a Bronx pastor and recently retired New York City assistant principal, for fraudulently misappropriating Social Security retirement benefits.  The consent judgment, along with a Stipulation and Order of Settlement (the “Stipulation”), resolves the United States’ civil claims against ROBINSON, brought under the False Claims Act in a complaint filed on October 5, 2016.  Both the consent judgment and Stipulation were entered today by U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Social Security is a critical but limited resource that millions of Americans depend on in retirement.  We will not tolerate abuse of this common good.  Relatives of deceased beneficiaries have an obligation to notify the Social Security Administration, and those who choose to pocket the cash will be held to account.”

Special Agent in Charge John Grasso said:  “This consent judgment should serve as a warning to people who choose to selfishly defraud the Social Security Trust Fund. Such individuals are not only liable for the money that they stole, but potentially additional monetary penalties under the False Claim Act.  Our Office vigorously pursues these cases criminally, civilly, and administratively to the fullest extent of the law.  I strongly encourage the public to report suspected instances of Social Security fraud to the OIG’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

This Office filed a civil fraud suit against ROBINSON under the False Claims Act and common law alleging that he misappropriated more than $200,000 in Social Security benefits between 1999 and 2013.  These benefits had been paid by the Social Security Administration to Robinson’s father after his father had died.  The False Claims Act was amended in 2009 to cover persons who knowingly conceal or improperly avoid repaying amounts owed to the Government, regardless of whether a false claim or statement is made.  Thus, those who misappropriate Social Security benefits paid to deceased relatives after 2009 may be subject to treble damages and penalties under the False Claims Act.  Up until 2009, the Government could recover only single damages in such cases, in common-law court actions.

Under the Stipulation, ROBINSON agreed to a judgment in the amount of $330,284, representing the amount of benefits he took plus additional damages under the False Claims Act for conduct occurring after the law was amended in 2009.

ROBINSON, 65, of New Windsor, New York, further admitted and accepted responsibility for misappropriating $214,994 in payments from the Social Security Administration.  Specifically, ROBINSON admitted that after his father died in 1999, ROBINSON maintained access to a joint bank account into which his father’s Social Security retirement benefits continued to be deposited, and ROBINSON redirected those funds for his own use until 2013.  During this time, ROBINSON was employed as the pastor of a Bronx church and as a New York City assistant principal, earning well over six figures from his positions.  ROBINSON also admitted that he was aware that he had no right to the payments and that he was obligated to inform the Social Security Administration of the death of his father and to return the payments, but failed to do so.

Mr. Kim thanked the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General for its investigative work.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cha-Kim is in charge of the case.

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