Montana Man Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Obtaining Social Security Benefits

Tuesday, June 26, 2012
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 A former Ronan man admitted in federal court Friday to fraudulently collecting more than $15,000 in Social Security benefits.

David Raleigh Knott, 59, pleaded guilty to Social Security income benefit fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula.

A Social Security Administration investigation showed Knott used both his son’s Social Security number and a fake number to continue receiving benefits for more than a three-year period.

Knott applied for Social Security income benefits in 1997. He was informed several times by the Social Security Administration that working or earning income must be reported, as it could affect his eligibility to receive benefits, according to court records.

But starting in 2008, Knott entered the first of several employment contracts to deliver newspapers for the Missoulian. He worked for the Missoulian through 2010, but never reported to the Social Security Administration that he had been earning income.

Knott used his son’s Social Security number on both a work contract and a W-9 application “in an attempt to conceal his work status and earn income from the Social Security Administration,” court records say.

On a 2009 employment contract, Knott used a false Social Security number to conceal his work status.

During an interview, Knott told Social Security Administration agents he knew it was illegal to misuse a Social Security number, but did so to conceal his income and continue collecting benefits.

Knott’s failure to report his employment resulted in an overpayment of Social Security income benefits of more than $15,000.

Knott previously lived in Ronan and now lives in Creston, Wash. He faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

A sentencing hearing has been set for Oct. 5.

Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at jenna.cederberg@missoulian.com