From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida:
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the filing of federal charges against 12 individuals in Operation Dead Ringer. The individuals are charged in 11 separate cases, with cumulatively stealing more than $700,000 in benefits paid by the Social Security Administration on behalf of beneficiaries who were actually deceased. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment on each count.
Operation Dead Ringer, initiated in the Middle District of Florida, aggressively targets individuals who steal Social Security benefits inadvertently paid to deceased beneficiaries. According to an information and the respective indictments:
Donald Stevenson (51, Orlando) was charged with theft of government funds. According to his plea agreement, from June 2016 through April 2019, Stevenson fraudulently collected approximately $48,750 in Social Security benefits and $3,501 in benefits from the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation following his mother’s death on June 17, 2016.
Jacque Rathburn (64, Punta Gorda) was charged with theft of government funds. Between February 2013 and June 2019, Rathburn fraudulently collected approximately $78,164 of her mother’s Social Security benefits following her mother’s death on February 18, 2013.
Glenn Frank (70, Largo) was charged with theft of government funds. From September 2016 through February 2019, Frank fraudulently collected approximately $28,895 of his mother’s Social Security benefits following her death on September 17, 2016.
Louis Rozzero (62, Clearwater) was charged with theft of government funds. Between October 2014 and April 2019, Rozzero fraudulently collected approximately $57,332 of his partner’s Social Security benefits following his partner’s death on October 21, 2014.
Scott Eads (56, Indianapolis) was charged with theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft. From February 2016 through April 2018, Eads fraudulently collected approximately $30,547 in Social Security benefits following the death of a Social Security beneficiary on February 6, 2016.
Ronald Harshman (53, St. Cloud) was charged with theft of government funds. From August 2013 through May 2019, Harshman fraudulently collected approximately $62,341 of his father’s Social Security benefits following his father’s death on August 11, 2013.
Sandra Polder (79, Orlando) was charged with theft of government funds and false statement to a federal agency. From January 2013 through May 2019, Polder fraudulently collected approximately $49,299 of her son’s Social Security benefits following his death on January 15, 2013.
Rosemary Freeman (75, Summerfield) was charged with theft of government funds. From January 2013 through April 2019, Freeman fraudulently collected approximately $83,488 of her boyfriend’s Social Security benefits following his death in January 2013.
Bruce Griffin (58, Dunnellon) was charged with theft of government funds. From June 2013 through July 2019, Griffin fraudulently collected approximately $50,963 of his wife’s Social Security benefits following her death in May 2013.
Madelin Caridad Ifrim (61, Fort Myers) and Marian Ifrim (53, Fort Myers) have been charged with theft of government funds. From April 2013 through February 2019 Madelin Caridad Ifrim and Marian Ifrim fraudulently collected approximately $100,762 in Social Security benefits following the death of a Social Security beneficiary in May 2013.
Robert Lee West Jr. (71, Fort Myers) was charged with theft of government funds. From November 1995 through February 2019, West fraudulently collected approximately $118,186 in Social Security benefits following the death of a Social Security beneficiary in November 1995.
“As these charges demonstrate, stealing from SSA on behalf of a deceased beneficiary is a federal crime. We work closely with SSA and other government agencies to identify Social Security fraud and stop improper payments,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General of Social Security. “I thank the United States Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Huyler for their continuing support of our investigations, and our law enforcement partners for their vital assistance in bringing these individuals to justice.”
An information and an indictment are merely formal charges that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
The cases are being investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from other federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation – Office of the Inspector General. Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler is coordinating the Operation. She, along with Assistant United States Attorneys Yolande Viacava and Tyrie Boyer, will be prosecuting the above cases.