News and Press Releases

Defendant Claimed Custody of Son After Boy had been Removed from Home Due to Neglect

August 20, 2009

ALBERT EUGENE WHITE, 58, of Bellingham, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Social Security Representative Payee Fraud. WHITE collected benefits belonging to his son, during a period when he no longer had custody of the boy. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour ordered WHITE to pay $18,303 in restitution. Special Assistant United States Attorney Johanna Vanderlee said the crime was a “breach of trust toward White’s son.”

According to records filed in the case, WHITE filed in July 2007, to be the Representative Payee for his son who received Social Security Disability payments because one parent is disabled. The money is to be used for basic needs such as food and housing. One month later, in August, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services removed the boy from WHITE’s care because of concerns about drug abuse and legal problems. Nevertheless, WHITE filed a Statement of Claimant for Other Person, requesting emergency funds for himself and his son saying they were homeless and needed emergency funds to secure housing. Between September 2007, and January 2008, WHITE collected more than $18,000 that should have gone to his son’s needs. Instead, WHITE used the money for his own purposes, including the purchase of a new car. WHITE’s son was in foster care. In February 2008, the boy’s foster mother began receiving the payments.

In March 2009, WHITE was charged with Social Security Representative Payee Fraud. He pleaded guilty on April 7, 2009.

In asking for a prison sentence, Special Assistant United States Attorney Johanna Vanderlee wrote to the court that the others need to know there are consequences for defrauding the Social Security system. “The public has a stake in knowing that public benefits meant to provide for the basic needs of children are being used appropriately and in knowing that individuals who commit this type of fraud will suffer consequences commensurate with their history and conduct,” Ms. Vanderlee wrote in her sentencing memo.

The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG). The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Johanna Vanderlee. Ms. Vanderlee is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to prosecute Social Security fraud cases in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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