United States Recovers $200,000 Resolving Allegations that Social Security Disability Income Recipient Violated the False Claims Act
DENVER – The United States recovered $200,000 as a settlement of allegations that Stephen G. Ackerman violated the federal False Claims Act by improperly accepting Social Security Disability Income payments and misleading the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) about his work activity, acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer announced.
The Settlement Agreement resolves contentions by the United States that Mr. Ackerman failed to accurately report his work activity to SSA between January 2011 and January 2016. The United States contends that Mr. Ackerman engaged in substantial gainful activity that made him ineligible to receive his monthly disability income payments through his work on behalf of Organic Alternatives, a marijuana retail business Mr. Ackerman owns and operates. Because Mr. Ackerman was not truthful to SSA about his work activity, the United States contends that he is liable under the False Claims Act, which allows for civil penalties and treble damages.
“Lying to the federal government does not pay,” said acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “We are committed to recovering government benefits obtained by fraud.”
“The SSA Office of the Inspector General is committed to protecting Social Security’s disability programs from fraud, waste, and abuse,” said Wilbert Craig, Special Agent-in-Charge of the OIG’s Denver Field Division. “This settlement and monetary recovery demonstrates that we will investigate allegations of false statements related to receiving Social Security disability benefits, to preserve benefits for individuals who truly need and depend on them. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for pursuing this case.”
“Program integrity is one of the Social Security Administration’s highest priorities. We vigorously fight fraud and appreciate the U.S. Attorney’s commitment to recovering the public’s money,” said Asheesh Agarwal, General Counsel, Social Security Administration.
The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and Social Security Administration Office of General Counsel were key partners in investigating and resolving this matter. The United States Attorney’s Office in Denver, Colorado works closely with these offices in the pursuit of recouping fraudulently obtained Social Security benefits.
The United States was represented in this matter by Assistant United States Attorney Andrea Wang of United States Attorney’s Office in Denver, Colorado.