Father Sentenced for Stealing Son's Social Security Benefits
ATLANTA - Ernest Edgar Black, 57, of Conyers, Georgia, who stole his son’s Social Security benefits, was sentenced today by United States District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., to 15 months confinement, which included a combination of prison, halfway house placement, and home confinement.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Black lied to the Social Security Administration so he could get the benefits that were supposed to be used for the care and support of his teenage son; instead, he used the money for himself. This selfish act robbed his son of much needed financial assistance.”
“The Social Security Administration, in partnership with the Department of Justice, began a fraud prosecution project more than a decade ago, which focuses on federal benefits fraud. The prosecution project has been a tremendous success and has returned countless dollars to Social Security trust funds. The Office of the Inspector General will continue to investigate all allegations of fraud and abuse and assist the United States Attorney’s Office in bringing violators to justice,” said Guy P. Fallen, Special Agent-in-Charge, Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General.
Black was sentenced to 3 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, during which time he must serve 6 months community confinement in a halfway house, and an additional 6 months of home confinement. Black was also ordered to pay $26,815.00 in restitution. Black was convicted of mail fraud and Social Security fraud on February 28, 2012, after a two-day trial.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In September 2007, Defendant Ernest Edgar Black was found eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. The following month, Black applied for auxiliary benefits for his son and completed an application to be selected as the representative payee for his son. A representative payee receives benefits payments on behalf of individuals who are incapable of managing their own finances. Black falsely reported on the representative payee application that benefits payments should be sent to him because he was the custodial parent and provided for his son’s care and support. The evidence at trial showed that Black was not the custodial parent and did not provide for his son’s care and support as he alleged. Black received more than $26,000 in Social Security benefits designated for his son from November 2007 through November 2008. Black used all the money he received for his own personal use.
The United States Attorney’s Office and the Social Security Administration investigate and prosecute fraud perpetrated against the Social Security Administration and rightful beneficiaries of Social Security benefits on an ongoing basis. Seven defendants have been sentenced since January 2011, four of whom received prison sentences. All defendants were required to repay the full amount of stolen benefits. The court ordered restitution for these cases exceeded $760,000.00.
- On January 3, 2011, Robert Joseph Selleck, 42, of Kennesaw, Georgia, was convicted of wire fraud. He was sentenced to 3 years probation with 6 months home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $123,103.40. Selleck received disability benefits for 8 years while working as a maintenance engineer for Turner Broadcasting Systems, Incorporated. Selleck concealed his employment by working under the Social Security number of his teenage son.
- On January 7, 2011, Melvin Douglas Skrine, 55, of Riverdale, Georgia, was convicted of theft of government funds. He was sentenced to 6 months incarceration; 3 years supervised release with the first 6 months of supervised release on home confinement; and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $138,069. Skrine received disability benefits from 2003 to 2007 while working as a janitor with the Fulton County School System. Skrine concealed his employment by working under his son’s Social Security number.
- On April 20, 2011, Tedra Ditmore, 38, of Jefferson, Georgia, was convicted for making false statements to the Social Security Administration on an application for survivor’s benefits. She was sentenced to 5 years probation, with the first 6 months of probation on home confinement; 100 hours of community service per month while unemployed, to be reduced to 15 hours per month upon obtaining full employment for the duration of the 5 years probation; and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $189,180.
- On April 26, 2011, Lois Ann Williams, 67, of Cummings, Georgia, was convicted of theft of government funds. She was sentenced to 1 year probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $57,395.23. Williams failed to properly notify the Social Security Administration of her mother-in-law’s death and illegally used the benefits payments of her deceased mother-in-law for her own personal use from 2002 to 2008.
- On October 25, 2011, Darryl Thomas Harrington, 45, of Winston, Georgia, was convicted of wire fraud. He was sentenced to 18 months incarceration; 3 years supervised release; and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $199,280. Harrington, the owner/operator of a trucking company, received disability benefits from 2002 to 2009, while working as a truck driver. Harrington also enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard in 2005 at the same time he claimed disability.
- On February 27, 2012, Amanda Jean Clark, 32, of Atlanta, Georgia, was convicted of theft of government funds. She was sentenced to 6 months incarceration; 3 years supervised release; 100 hours of community service; and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $25,110. Clark participated in a scheme that redirected Social Security benefits to a bank account she fraudulently established.
These cases were investigated by Special Agents from the Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, and were prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Loranzo M. Fleming.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.