News and Press Releases

Mark Jeremy Maki Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on July 8, 2008, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, MARK JEREMY MAKI, a 36-year-old resident of Three Forks, pled guilty to making false statements to the Social Security Administration. Sentencing is set for October 29, 2009. He is currently released on special conditions.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

In May of 1998, K.M., MAKI'S wife, and the mother of J.M., died.

On June 18, 1998, MAKI applied for SSA Surviving Child's Insurance benefits for J.M. based upon K.M.'s death. On the same date, MAKI submitted a request to be selected as the representative payee for J.M.'s benefits. Both the application for J.M's benefits and MAKI's application to be J.M.'s representative payee contained specific language that required SSA be notified if the beneficiary is no longer in the care of the representative payee, leaves the custody of the representative payee, or changes address. The forms also contained specific language regarding the use of the funds. All funds were to be used for the current needs of the beneficiary or saved for any future needs of the beneficiary. MAKI signed all of the required SSA documents under penalty of perjury. Based upon his submissions, J.M.'s application was approved. MAKI was also approved as the representative payee for J.M. MAKI began receiving SSA benefits on behalf of J.M. J.M.'s payments included retroactive payments dating back to June of 1998.

In September of 2004, J.M. was removed from MAKI'S care and custody following allegations of child abuse. J.M. was placed with his maternal grandparents who reside in Florida. On January 27, 2006, the grandparents obtained legal custody of J.M. The court's custody order included an order directing MAKI to change the representative payee for J.M.'s benefits. MAKI ignored the order.

J.M.'s grandparents stated that in September of 2004, MAKI sent them a check for $1,000, approximately six months after they began caring for J.M. The grandparents never received any other money or support from MAKI for the care of J.M.

On June 11, 2007, MAKI signed and returned a Representative Payee Report to the SSA. On the form MAKI was asked to account for all of the funds he received on behalf of J.M. between September 2004 and October 2006. Despite the fact that J.M. was in the custody of his grandparents in Florida and legally in the custody of the grandparents since January 27, 2006, MAKI claimed he used all of the funds for J.M.'s personal items. MAKI also claimed J.M. continued to live with him in Montana. The SSA based its continuation of benefits on the information contained within the Representative Payee Report submitted by MAKI.

When interviewed, MAKI admitted that J.M. had not been in his custody or care since September 2004. MAKI admitted he continued to receive J.M.'s SSA benefit payments through September 2006. MAKI admitted knowing that he had to spend all of the funds on J.M. or save the funds for J.M.'s future use. MAKI was shown the 2007 Representative Payee Report and admitted the information contained in the document was false. MAKI also admitted he knew that if he told the SSA that J.M. was living in Florida the payments would be redirected to Florida.

From October 13, 2004, until September 13, 2006, the payments to J.M. from the SSA totaled $8,499. Less the $1,000 payment to J.M.'s grandparents, MAKI owes J.M. and the SSA a total of $7,499 in restitution.

MAKI faces possible penalties of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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