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Press Release

Local Man Posed as Dead Father to Steal Social Security and Pension Benefits

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Timothy Gritman, 55, of Brodheadsville, PA pled guilty in U.S. District Court today to wire fraud and Social Security fraud for concealing the death of his father to steal his Social Security Administration Retirement Benefits ("SSA") and New York State pension benefits ("pension”) totaling approximately $204,985.

The defendant's father, Ralph Gritman, was 79 years old and in poor health in 2016 when he was last seen alive by relatives at defendant Gritman's Pennsylvania residence. In the summer of 2017, defendant Gritman relocated to Wyoming with his father. After that, the defendant posed as his dead father numerous times to continue receiving the SSA retirement benefits and the New York State pension.

Gritman obtained a Pennsylvania State identification card from the Department of Transportation Driver License Center in his father's name. Defendant Gritman was then photographed trying to disguise himself as an older man, holding the Pennsylvania State identification card he obtained of his father and appearing to use make-up to whiten his hair and eyebrows.

According to Medicare records, Ralph Gritman's health insurance was last used in September 2017 for an emergency visit to a Wyoming hospital. After that, his Medicare health benefits were never used again, but he was not reported deceased. Thus, his SSA and pension benefits continued to be paid to a joint account with the defendant. From approximately October 2017 to October 2022, defendant Gritman took Social Security and pension benefits intended for his father for his own personal use. While law enforcement has determined that Ralph Gritman is now deceased, his remains have not been found.

"Representing the United States in court means protecting taxpayer funds, including pursuing cases where there is an attempt to obtain money from the SSA fraudulently," said U.S. Attorney Romero. "Defendant Gritman physically represented himself as his elderly father to steal funds from the SSA. His guilty plea should serve as a warning that defrauding the SSA or any other government agency will never be worth money fraudulently obtained."

“Over several years, Timothy Gritman collected hundreds of thousands of dollars to which he knew he wasn’t entitled,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Needless to say, defrauding the government is a criminally bad idea and the FBI and our partners will continue to pursue anyone bold enough, and foolish enough, to do so.”

“Mr. Gritman’s admission holds him accountable for the intentional concealment of his father’s death to steal government funds for his personal gain,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “I thank each agency for their investigative efforts, as well as the NYS Comptroller’s office for their work in this investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”

“Timothy Gritman hid his father’s death to collect his pension and social security payments for more than four years, going so far as posing as his deceased father to keep his fraud going,” Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “Thanks to the work of my investigative team and our partners in law enforcement, he has been brought to justice. My office will continue to hold anyone who seeks to defraud the pension system accountable no matter who or where they are.”

“Timothy Gritman hid his father’s death to collect his pension and social security payments for more than four years, going so far as posing as his deceased father to keep his fraud going,” DiNapoli said. “Thanks to the work of my investigative team and our partners in law enforcement, he has been brought to justice. My office will continue to hold anyone who seeks to defraud the pension system accountable no matter who or where they are.”

The defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 285 years' imprisonment, a three-year period of supervised release, a $3,750,000 fine, and a $1,500 special assessment.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the New York State Office of the Comptroller and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Megan Curran.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated February 17, 2023

Topic
Financial Fraud