Shirley Man Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Deceased Half-Brother's Identity in Order to Continue Working and Collect Social Security Disability Benefits
From the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office:
(SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney today announced a 30-count indictment of Stavros Tsakonis, 61, of Shirley, for allegedly stealing the identity of his dead brother, U.S. Army and Vietnam War veteran Chris Tsakonis, in order to continue to work while still receiving disability benefits. The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office was assisted in the investigation by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Suffolk County Police Department, the United States Social Security Administration, the Office of Inspector General, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
“This defendant allegedly exploited the death of his half-brother so he could work under his brother’s name and simultaneously claim a full disability under his own given name, Stavros Tsakonis,” said District Attorney Tierney. “Instead of respecting the memory of his half-brother, this defendant exploited his death to start a plumbing business and purchase vehicles, while lining his own pockets with fraudulently obtained taxpayer funds for a supposed disability.”
“This 8-month-long investigation uncovered this scam artist’s scheme to work under the identity of his deceased veteran brother while obtaining over $160,000 in fraudulent disability benefits,” said Sheriff Errol D. Toulon, Jr. “I applaud the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office Investigators, District Attorney’s Office and all of our law enforcement partners for their collaboration to expose this man’s abuse of a system meant to help those in need.”
According to the investigation, from February 2015 to January 2023, the defendant received more than $160,000 in disability benefits, claiming to the U.S. Social Security Administration he was too disabled to work. As recently as January 25, 2023, the defendant was allegedly observed entering the Social Security Administration’s office in Patchogue using the assistance of a walker. After completing a form claiming that he had not worked since February 1989 and re-affirming he was disabled, the defendant was surveilled while walking unaided, without the assistance of any person or device.
A review of the defendant’s financial records, combined with multiple law enforcement surveillances, revealed he was gainfully employed as a plumber and has earned income as far back as February 2015 under the name of his deceased half-brother Chris Tsakonis, who passed away in 2012. In addition, the investigation found the defendant operated a company known as CT Plumbing, which utilized Chris Tsakonis’ assumed personal identifying information, social security number, and date of birth, to allegedly conceal income the defendant earned while still claiming to the Social Security Administration that he was physically unable to work.
The defendant also allegedly obtained a New York State driver’s license in his half-brother’s name to open bank accounts that he used to deposit the work income he earned while posing as Chris Tsakonis. The defendant also allegedly purchased several vehicles which he then registered under Chris Tsakonis’ name. Law enforcement observed the defendant driving one of the illegally registered vehicles from his house to his current job.
Furthermore, between 2016 and 2022, the defendant allegedly used his deceased half-brother Chris Tsakonis’ driver’s license at the Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs to apply for and renew a plumbing license that he obtained under Chris Tsakonis’ name.
The defendant was indicted for the following charges:
One Count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class C felony; Twelve Counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree, a Class D felony; Eight Counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a Class D felony; Three Counts of Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a Class E felony; Three Counts of Falsifying a Business Record in the First Degree, a Class E felony; Two Counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a Class E felony; and Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor. On March 13, 2023, Tsakonis was arrested and arraigned on the indictment before Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Richard Ambro. He was released on his own recognizance and as per Justice Ambro’s order, returned to court on March 14, 2023 to surrender his passport. The defendant is due back in court on April 12, 2023, and is being represented by the Legal Aid Society.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Tara Fairgrieve of the Financial Crime Bureau.