Virginia Identity Thief Must Serve 6 Years, Pay $201K

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
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William George Cooper - not to be confused with William Bernard Cooper, whose identity the former stole for almost 30 years - was sentenced Monday to six years and two months in federal prison.

He also was ordered to pay about $201,000 in restitution to the government for Social Security benefits he received using the other man's name.

In March, Cooper, 56, pleaded guilty to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft.

The two men lived near each other in Norfolk at one time and attended the same schools. William Bernard Cooper died in 1989, but Cooper was using the man's identity well before that.

He used it in 1980 to re-enlist in an Army that had booted him out five years earlier after he was convicted of robbery and fraudulent enlistment.

In 1992, Cooper used his real name to apply for Social Security benefits.

Five years later, he decided to double-dip. He used William Bernard Cooper's identity to apply for disability and other benefits. He was questioned because the Social Security Administration had a death notice on file for the victim, according to the statement of facts in the case.

Cooper insisted he was the other man, signed forms and provided photo identification. His benefits were approved.

The U.S. attorney's office also sought restitution for about $45,000 in treatment Cooper received under veteran's benefits. U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar did not include that in the restitution because Cooper had served in the military.

Assistant U.S. Attorney V. Kathleen Dougherty pointed out Cooper's minimal work history and a criminal history that included sexual abuse of two minors.

Cooper told the judge he had worked at Norfolk International Airport in 1988 and that he worked security jobs as well.

The judge expressed concern about security companies hiring someone with Cooper's criminal history. He told Dougherty to contact the companies Cooper claimed to have worked for and to get back to him about what she learned within two weeks.

"I am not by any circumstances going to bypass this information," Doumar said.