COVINGTON, KY - Several eastern Kentuckians defrauded state and federal benefit programs out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to plea agreements filed in federal court.
Two men and four women from Carter, Boyd, Lawrence, Morgan and Morgan Counties pleaded guilty Monday, in separate cases, to charges related to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) fraud. One of the women also pleaded guilty to the additional charge of aggravated identity theft.
In their plea agreements, the defendants admitted they fraudulently obtained benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), and in some instances from the Medicaid Program, by concealing and intentionally failing to disclose their true living arrangements and financial resources.
Court documents indicate that, as far back as 1998 in one case, some of the defendants lied to SSA agents, telling the agents that they had divorced or separated from their spouses when in fact they were living together and sharing living expenses. In one case, a woman even forged the signature of her husband to further the scheme.
Collectively, the defendants defrauded the SSA and the Medicaid Program out of nearly $450,000.
Had the defendants’ provided the SSA with their true living arrangements and financial resources, the defendants would have either been ineligible for SSI and Medicaid benefits or their eligibility would have been greatly reduced.
SSI is an income assistance program designed to provide financial assistance to elderly and disabled individuals who meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Kentuckians who are eligible for SSI also qualify for benefits under the Medicaid Program.
The defendants in the case are Diana Lynn Rice, 66, of Webbville, KY., Ila Jean Rose, 57, of Olive Hill, KY., Granvell Windfred Ramey, 73, of Catlettsburg, KY., Junia Kay Ratliff, 66, of West Liberty, KY., Randall Dale Ratliff, 74, of West Liberty, KY., and Linda Lou Tackett, 73, of Grayson, KY.
Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Guy P. Fallen, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, jointly announced the guilty pleas.
The investigation was conducted by the SSA, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Nasson represents the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this case.Sentencing dates have not been announced. Supplemental Security Income Fraud carries a maximum of five years in prison upon conviction. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two years in prison upon conviction.