Social Security Employee Charged with Theft of Government Property and Aggravated Identity Theft
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas:
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 38-year-old Harlingen resident is now in custody on allegations he created false profiles to steal government money, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Authorities arrested Lee Marvin Nichols today. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 4.
According to the three-count indictment, returned June 27, Nichols was a claims specialist at the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Harlingen.
Nichols allegedly created fictitious profiles for two children that did not exist. The indictment alleges Nichols linked the profiles of the fictitious children to a recently deceased man and a disabled woman living in Mexico in an attempt to create survivor benefits application.
Nichols used debit cards issued to the children to withdraw funds, according to the charges. When he would obtain the funds, he allegedly attempted to disguise himself by using hats pulled down over his face, sunglasses, balaclavas and other clothing to conceal his appearance.
In addition to Social Security benefits, the IRS issued economic stimulus payments of $1,400 to each fictitious child, according to the indictment.
Nichols is charged with one count of theft of government property which carries a maximum of 10 years in federal prison. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, he must also serve a mandatory two years which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.
The SSA-Office of Inspection General conducted the investigation with the assistance of IRS-Criminal Investigation and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brad Gray, Ben Sandel, Andrew Swartz and Jose Esquivel are prosecuting the case.