Richard Kelly Hannum Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula on March 31, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, RICHARD KELLY HANNUM, a 40-year-old resident of Butte, pled guilty to theft of federal government monies by fraud. Sentencing has been set for July 8, 2010. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
HANNUM was a Lead Transportation Security Officer (LTSO) for the Transportation Security Administration who worked at the Gallatin Field Airport in Belgrade. HANNUM alleged that he had suffered an injury to his back on December 29, 2005, while working in luggage inspection at the airport.
HANNUM filed a Claim for Compensation on April 15, 2006, alleging that he was disabled and unable to return to work. HANNUM's initial claim was denied in August of 2006 because of insufficient proof that his medical condition was connected to employment.
On November 28, 2006, the initial denial was reversed by the Employees Compensation Appeals Board, and the claim approved.
On December 1, 2006, HANNUM returned to work but left early claiming he could not perform the job.
From September 30, 2007, to October 19, 2007, HANNUM returned to work for a total of 10 days, but notified management on his last day of work that he was unable to perform his duties.
On February 20, 2008, HANNUM was cleared to work but he did not report.
On June 13, 2008, HANNUM was separated from TSA on an official disability retirement.
According to a number of doctor's reports, HANNUM could have returned to work, at least performing light duty. He was offered opportunities to return to work on three separate occasions. On the first, he returned for one day. On the second, he returned for 10 days. On the third, he was offered a split shift in Butte, totaling four hours per day, but declined the offer. On each occasion, he claimed he was unable to return to work due to medical issues. Under the terms of the Workers Compensation Program benefits agreement, HANNUM was required to advise his supervisor of any improvement in his medical condition.
HANNUM's periodic claims represented that he was not able to sit or stand for meaningful periods and that these restrictions prohibited him from returning to work, even for the light duty assignments he had been offered. HANNUM continued to see physicians who in turn would document his medical disability, although sometimes advising that he could return to work with restrictions. As late as March 2, 2009, one of HANNUM's physicians, based upon examination and the representations made to him by HANNUM, determined that "the effects of the work injury have not ceased at this time and recovery is unlikely."
In March 2008, one of HANNUM's physicians saw HANNUM walking normally in a shopping mall in Butte. When HANNUM noticed the physician, he began to walk with "difficulty."
Investigators from TSA's Office of Inspection conducted surveillance on HANNUM on two occasions: November 13-17, 2008, and February 6-9, 2009. During the surveillance activities, HANNUM and his vehicle were identified at several locations in and around Butte, Cardwell and Helena; all locations substantial distances from his home in Butte, and typically requiring approximately at least a one-hour drive each way. At no time did agents observe HANNUM displaying any signs of physical injury and, in fact, he walked and performed movements consistent with an individual with no physical injury. HANNUM was observed at various locations and was absent from his residence and driving for four hours or more on several occasions.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks provided evidence that HANNUM had obtained fishing and big game hunting licenses for the years 2006/2007 and 2008/2009; the period HANNUM claimed he was unable to return to work.
On March 5, 2009, investigators interviewed HANNUM regarding his OWCP claim. Regarding if he was able to return to work, HANNUM stated he could only stand or sit for twenty minutes and would not be able to work any assignments at the airport. HANNUM then stated that he had been bedridden for the past two years and didn't even hunt or fish anymore. HANNUM then provided a two page, sworn, written statement covering the above information he provided.
HANNUM was then advised that he had been under surveillance for the past several months and was observed driving, walking, and sitting for long periods of time and displayed no signs that he was favoring an injury. He was advised that the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had provided copies of his hunting and fishing licenses for the years 2006-2008.
HANNUM then was given the opportunity and elected to correct the record.
HANNUM confessed that he had not been as forthcoming as he should have been with his doctors regarding his recovery. Although he did suffer an injury handling luggage, he admitted he had exaggerated his condition when describing it to his doctors. "I have led my doctors to believe that my pain and suffering is more severe than it really was." He stated that his condition improved "significantly" in the last twelve months. He then stated that he should have notified TSA, DOL, and his doctors that his condition had improved. He stated he has fished and driven overnight to visit his wife, and is capable of driving several hours.
Regarding the three jobs offers TSA proposed to him which he declined, HANNUM stated he was not capable of returning to work in December 2006, but may have been able to return to work as early as September 2007. He stated he was physically able to return to work in Butte in February 2008, when he was offered an opportunity by TSA, but declined. Regarding his latest visit to one of his physicians, on March 2, 2009, he stated he exaggerated the severity of his condition to him.
HANNUM provided two additional sworn, written statements; the second covering the fact that he was not forthcoming to his doctors about the severity of his injury and his recovery, and in the third, his ability to return to work and his exaggerated claims of disability to his physician on March 2, 2009.
From February 20, 2008 (3rd offer for re-employment) through February 2009, HANNUM collected $29,632.86 in Workers Compensation Benefits from Homeland Security and the Department of Labor.
HANNUM faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Transportation Safety Administration - Office of Inspector General.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.