United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Two Plead Guilty in Long-Running Disability Fraud Scheme
Defendant Repeatedly Faked Mental Disability to Obtain Federal and State Payments
A Mill Creek, Washington couple pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to a long-running scheme to defraud government programs designed to help the disabled. ANTHONY GEORGE, 37, and ROXANNE GEORGE, 35, both pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud. When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones on January 6, 2012, each faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of the plea agreement, ANTHONY GEORGE must pay $198,148 in restitution to state and federal disability programs. ROXANNE GEORGE has agreed to pay $91,527 for her fraudulent use of state and federal assistance programs. ANTHONY GEORGE remains in custody, ROXANNE GEORGE was released pending sentencing.
According to the plea agreement, 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 (in the Sonny Fisher persona) pretended that he was profoundly disabled and unable to work. In October 2010, ROXANNE GEORGE appeared with her husband, pretending to be the neighbor of ‘Sonny Fisher’ and verified that ‘Fisher’ never worked, could not work, and could not drive. She claimed he had $100 in his bank account. In fact, ANTHONY GEORGE was an active buyer and seller of used cars, lived in a $430,000 home that he had contracted to purchase, and had more than $10,000 in his bank account. ROXANNE GEORGE further defrauded state and federal assistance programs by failing to report that she lived with her common-law husband ANTHONY GEORGE. She claimed to be a single mother with three kids living in Everett, Washington. During in-home visits and in written submissions, ROXANNE and ANTHONY GEORGE pretended to be brother and sister rather than husband and wife. Between 1996 and 2010, she fraudulently obtained $67,510 in food, healthcare and financial assistance benefits from the State of Washington.
Additionally, both defendants admitted that they attempted to obstruct the judicial proceedings by making misrepresentations and lying about their assets and income when they were arrested, in proceedings where the court was determining whether the defendants should be detained pending resolution of the criminal case. As a result of this conduct, the applicable sentencing guideline range will be increased.
Six other defendants remain indicted in the disability fraud investigation unveiled in June 2011.
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 Special Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson and Assistant United States Attorney Mary K. Dimke. Mr. Wilkinson is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to prosecute Social Security fraud in federal court.