Former Kentucky Mayor and Her Daughter Convicted for Defrauding SSA

Thursday, February 27, 2014
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Article from NBC News

A former mayor of Martin, Ky., and her daughter, have been convicted by a federal jury of charges related to a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration and to misapply federal funds.

On Tuesday night, the jury convicted former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson, 69, and her daughter, Rita Christine Whicker, 42, former director of the Martin Community Center.

The jury convicted the defendants on eight counts, including counts of conspiracy, federal program fraud, theft of social security disability benefits and aggravated identity theft. The verdict was handed down after approximately two hours of deliberation following two days of trial.

Ginger Michelle Halbert, 42, a volunteer city employee who worked closely with Robinson, pled guilty last week to a charge of theft of government money.

Evidence at trial established that, from 2006 until January 2013, Halbert was purportedly working on a volunteer basis, but was secretly being paid with federal funds.

The funds used to pay Halbert were intended for the Martin Community Center and the Martin Housing Authority. Some of the misdirected money was supposed to fund an after school program for city children. To conceal the scheme, the defendants allegedly arranged for the checks to be made payable to Halbert's son.

Evidence further established that Halbert, who was receiving social security disability benefits, intentionally failed to notify SSA of her earned income from the city of Martin. Under federal law, anyone who receives disability benefits is limited in the amount of money that they can receive from another source and all income must be reported to the SSA, so it can properly determine eligibility for benefits.