New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Social Security Disability Benefits

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
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John Bethea, 55, of Trenton, N.J., admitted today to stealing nearly $90,000 in Social Security disability benefits and using his brother’s Social Security number to obtain employment and worker’s compensation, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Bethea pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton federal court to an Information charging him with theft of government funds and misrepresentation of a Social Security number.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

While he was receiving Social Security disability benefits from August 1999 through July 2011, Bethea worked for three different employers in New Jersey and earned over $188,000 without notifying the Social Security Administration. He used his brother’s Social Security number to obtain a New Jersey driver’s license in his brother’s name, with his own picture, and used that fraudulent license to obtain employment under his brother’s identity, which enabled him to continue receiving Social Security disability benefits while working. After he sustained an on-the-job injury, he used his brother’s identity to collect more than $28,000 in worker’s compensation.

As part of his guilty plea, Bethea agreed to pay $89,216 in restitution to Social Security for the benefits he fraudulently received and $28,436 in restitution to AmGuard Insurance Co. for the worker’s compensation he fraudulently received.
The theft of government funds charge to which Bethea pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. Misrepresentation of a Social Security number carries a statutory maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing before Judge Pisano is scheduled for April 26, 2012.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Edward J. Ryan, for their work in the investigation of this case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah M. Wolfe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.