News and Press Releases

Grand Forks Man Sentenced for Receiving His Deceased Father’s Retirement Checks of over $1.2 Million from the United States Government

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2012

FARGO - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on March 5, 2012, Silas Lee McHenry, Jr., of Grand Forks, N.D., was sentenced before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson on a charge of embezzlement of government property.

McHenry, Jr., 67, pleaded guilty on Oct. 24, 2011, to receiving his deceased father’s monthly retirement checks from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) of the United States government from April 1983 through November 2009, when McHenry, Jr., knew that he was not entitled to receive and retain the proceeds of his deceased father’s retirement checks. McHenry, Jr., unlawfully received more than
$1,246,362.22 in retirement benefits, which were to be to be paid to his father only while he was living.

“Protecting the American taxpayer is an important responsibility of the North Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office,” stated U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon. “By holding fraudsters like Mr. McHenry, Jr., responsible for their crimes, we send the message that theft from the United States will have harsh consequences.”

“Mr. McHenry’s repeated false statements to OPM demonstrate the lengths to which some individuals will go to defraud the government,” stated OPM Inspector General Patrick E. McFarland. “His theft of $1.2 million is OPM’s largest identified overpayment to a deceased annuitant. Prevention of this kind of fraud must remain a top priority for OPM.”

Prior to his death on March 19, 1983, McHenry, Sr., was entitled to receive, and did receive, a monthly retirement check from OPM. Before his death, McHenry, Sr., became disabled and McHenry, Jr., was appointed as his guardian to manage his father’s affairs. After McHenry, Sr.’s, death on March 19, 1983, McHenry, Jr., failed to notify the United States government that his father had died, and consequently OPM continued to send a monthly retirement check to McHenry, Sr.

From March 1983 through November 2009, OPM continued to direct deposit retirement checks in the deceased McHenry, Sr.’s, bank account. McHenry, Jr., as power of attorney for his father, would then withdraw the proceeds from the retirement checks in his father’s account and use the money for his own personal use. Following McHenry, Sr.’s, death in 1983, McHenry, Jr., contacted OPM on several occasions in response to requested verification of the status of McHenry, Sr. McHenry, Jr., provided false
information on four annuitant response forms he filed with OPM between 1995 and 2009, which led OPM to believe that McHenry, Sr., was still living.

Judge Erickson sentenced McHenry, Jr., to 44 months (three years and eight months) in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. McHenry, Jr., was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,246,362.22, and to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund.

The U.S. has recovered $4,000 in cash from McHenry, Jr., and has seized property belonging to McHenry, Jr., including a motor vehicle and real estate located in Minnesota. Other action to attempt to collect the restitution debt will be ongoing. The case was investigated by the Office of Personnel Management-Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Secret Service. The Secret Service is handling asset
forfeiture matters in this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott J. Schneider prosecuted the case.

 

 

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