Local Man Gets Prison Sentence, Ordered to Pay Restitution in Scheme that Defrauded his Siblings
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A resident of Allegheny County has been sentenced in federal court to 18 months of incarceration, restitution of $117,307.77, and three years of supervised release on his conviction of False Statements, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
United States District Judge Terrence F. McVerry imposed the sentence on William R. Cook, Sr., 34.
According to the information presented to the court, the facts put on the record to support the guilty plea were that Clarence Williams, the father of the defendant, was a Postal Service employee who had Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI). Mr. Clarence Williams designated his four children as his beneficiaries to each receive an equal share of the payout. Without the knowledge or consent of his siblings, the defendant filled out federal forms purporting to be his sister and two brothers. The forged forms directed that the payout monies all be sent to the defendant's address. The defendant did collect and spend the monies intended for his three siblings. When the fraud was discovered the government paid each of the three siblings $39,102.59 thus incurring a loss in the total amount of $117,307.77.
Prior to imposing sentence, Judge McVerry provided Cook with an opportunity to address his siblings seated in court. With a quivering voice and trembling chin, Cook apologized for the embarrassment and pain he caused. Judge McVerry stated he was moved by the apology, but nevertheless imposed a sentence in the middle of the guidelines range of 15 to 21 months. Judge McVerry noted that although this was a non-violent offense, stealing is a serious offense. Judge McVerry observed that the several previous crimes committed by Cook and the resulting sentences of probation had not impressed Cook with the need follow the law. Judge McVerry stated, "I urge you to become a productive member of society and a positive role model for your 11 year old son. There is nothing more important in life than being a role model for your son." The court imposed a three-year period of supervised release to be served after release from jail. During supervised release Cook is required to participate in an alcohol and drug aftercare program, undergo a mental health assessment and treatment program, and contribute to the costs of these programs. Judge McVerry explained that "these programs are not to slap you on the face; they are to keep you on the right track." Judge McVerry also ordered that 50 percent of Cook's prison salary be used to pay restitution.
Assistant United States Attorney Nelson P. Cohen prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General, for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of William R. Cook.