From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Charleston man pleaded guilty today to Social Security fraud, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Thomas Bennett, 58, entered his guilty plea to theft of public money.
Bennett admitted that he participated in a scheme in which his family members, in 1986, fraudulently applied for Social Security benefits. The fraudulent application was in the name of a family member who died in 1967 and members of Bennett’s family were not entitled to receive any benefits. Bennett subsequently learned about the fraud and in 2000, he joined his family in participating in the scheme. When the other family members died in 2012 and 2013, Bennett took over the Social Security scheme and continued to cash Social Security benefits checks that he knew he was not entitled to receive. Bennett assisted his other family members in cashing Social Security benefits checks dating back to the year 2000 totaling $36,927. As part of his plea agreement, Bennett has agreed to pay $36,927 in restitution.
Bennett faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on October 11, 2017.
The investigation was conducted by the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General and the Social Security Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes is in charge of the prosecution. United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston is presiding over the case.