United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
NINE INDICTED IN LONG-RUNNING DISABILITY FRAUD SCHEMES
Defendants Repeatedly Faked Mental Disability to Obtain Federal SSI Payments
Nine people were arrested today on different indictments for scheming to defraud the Social Security disability system. In each case, the defendants claimed mental impairments prohibited them from working, when in fact they were working in various car sales businesses. In one of the cases, the Washington State program that provides payments to the caregivers of disabled people was also defrauded of over a hundred thousand dollars. Collectively, the indictments charge that the defendants obtained over $700,000 through false disability claims. Eight of the defendants will make their initial appearances on the charges at 2:30 today in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
“These Social Security dollars provide a critical safety net for those who really need the assistance,” said United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “This kind of fraud tears at that safety net and betrays taxpayers who expect their hard earned dollars to go to the truly needy.”
According to the indictments, the defendants used a variety of schemes to manipulate the Social Security disability program, which is known as Supplemental Security Income. The scheme involved faking disabilities at interviews, misrepresentations about work history and assets, and the use of multiple social security numbers and numerous drivers licenses.
RONNIE GEORGE, 50, and NANCY STONE, 45, both of Kent, Washington, are charged with multiple counts of Social Security Fraud and theft of government funds. According to the indictment, in 1990, RONNIE GEORGE applied for SSI disability indicating he was severely disabled. GEORGE filed paperwork claiming he could not read or write, feed or clean himself or drive a car. GEORGE was granted disability payments in 1991, collecting more than $139,000. He and STONE continued to claim that GEORGE was disabled at various reviews and STONE claimed payments from the state as his caregiver totaling more than $109,000. In fact, during that time GEORGE was not disabled, but was selling cars and RVs.
In a second indictment, JOHNNY GEORGE, 53, LINDA GEORGE, 54, and their children PAUL GEORGE, 35, COOKIE MILLER, and DANNA GEORGE are charged in a similar scheme. In that case the fraud continued over a 31-year period, allegedly netting the defendants more than $338,000. According to the indictment, JOHNNY GEORGE fraudulently obtained a second Social Security number and, using this second identity, applied for disability in 1979. PAUL GEORGE applied for disability in 1983. Both men claimed to be developmentally disabled and unable to work. JOHNNY GEORGE claimed to be unable to feed himself, read, write or work. At the same time he claimed to be disabled, however, JOHNNY GEORGE owned and operated a used car lot. PAUL GEORGE also claimed to be profoundly disabled, and unable to care for himself. However, on a housing application PAUL GEORGE identified himself as ‘Brad George’ and gave his employment as sales and financing manager at Pacific Auto Zone. The application stated he had worked in that capacity for ten years, and earned income of $6,500 per month. The men used alternate Social Security numbers to live non-disabled lives at the same time they were collecting benefits. The other members of their family assisted with the scheme by making false statements to Social Security and to evaluators and they obtained numerous false identity documents.
Finally, ANTHONY GEORGE, 37, and ROXANNE GEORGE, 35, of Mill Creek, are charged with using a false identity to obtain SSI payments. In 1982, ANTHONY GEORGE, who had previously been assigned a Social Security number under his true name, applied for a second Social Security number in the fictitious name of Sonny Fisher. In 1993, ANTHONY GEORGE, using the fictitious Sonny Fisher identity, applied for disability payments saying Sonny Fisher could not work. At multiple interviews over the years ANTHONY GEORGE and ROXANNE GEORGE represented that ANTHONY GEORGE (in the Sonny Fisher persona), was profoundly disabled and unable to work. In fact, ANTHONY GEORGE was an active buyer and seller of used cars. ANTHONY GEORGE collected over $116,000 in disability payments.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The cases are being investigated by the Social Security Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) with assistance from the Washington State Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Washington State Department of Licensing Fraud Investigation Unit.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary K. Dimke and Special Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson. Mr. Wilkinson is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to prosecute Social Security fraud in federal court.