Ohio Man Sentenced for Theft of Social Security Benefits
Robert Seale concealed beneficiary’s death to obtain $154,000 fraudulently
Gail S. Ennis, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA), today announced the sentencing of Robert Seale in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, for theft of public money. Seale was sentenced to 3 months of incarceration, 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service. The judge also ordered Seale to make restitution of $154,986 to SSA. Seale was indicted in March 2021 and subsequently pleaded guilty in April.
According to the court records, Seale was the former husband of an SSA beneficiary who died in September 2010. On the death certificate, Seale is listed as the informant, however, he did not report her death to SSA. From the time of her death until November 2018, the deceased beneficiary’s checks were deposited into a bank account that Seale solely owned. Seale improperly obtained $154,986 in Social Security benefits. He fraudulently used the funds for debit card purchases, ATM withdrawals, and bill payments.
The investigation resulted from an audit by the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which discovered the beneficiary’s death and the improper payments issued by SSA. The United States Secret Service jointly investigated the case, along with criminal investigators from SSA OIG’s Chicago Field Division under the supervision of Special Agent-in-Charge Andrew Boockmeier.
“This sentence demonstrates that misusing Social Security benefits after someone dies is a criminal and punishable act,” said Inspector General Ennis. “Our auditors and criminal investigators will continue to collaborate with SSA and other agencies to identify those who conceal death reports for their personal gain. We will continue to hold accountable those who commit crimes involving Social Security benefits.”
Inspector General Ennis thanked the U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry for prosecuting this case.
Members of the public are encouraged to report suspected Social Security fraud to the OIG at https://oig.ssa.gov.