Federal Jury Convicts Kingsport Attorney Of Fraud
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On June 13, 2016, following a five-day trial in U.S. District Court, a jury convicted Everett H. Mechem, 57, of 28 counts of wire fraud, two counts of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) fraud, two counts of providing false statements, and one count of theft from the United States. Sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m., on Sept. 21, 2016, in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from January 2009 to July 2013, Everett H. Mechem, acting as the attorney and representative payee for his wife, Sheila A. Mechem, schemed to defraud the United States government to obtain SSI payments for her to which she was not entitled. The scheme involved false statements and misrepresentations to the Social Security Administration (SSA) regarding Sheila Mechem’s living arrangements, financial resources, and income. Everett Mechem reported that he was living separately from his wife and that she had little to no income or resources; meanwhile, husband and wife rented a five-bedroom home together in Kingsport, Tenn., purchased a new home in 2012, and shared in the profits of Everett Mechem’s law practice. Additionally, Everett Mechem concealed that his wife was working as a paralegal and office manager at the Mechem Law Firm, P.C. in Kingsport. She also served as a commercial spokesperson for Everett Mechem’s affiliated business, the Consumer Law Center, all while Everett Mechem collected monthly SSI payments for his wife’s claimed inability to work.
Nancy Harr, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee said, “As a program meant to help those who can’t afford the basic necessities of life, the integrity of the Social Security Administration’s SSI program is vital to its continued success. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to pursue and prosecute those who attempt to defraud that federal program and the United States.”
“One of our highest priorities is ensuring that those who steal SSA payments are swiftly detected and prosecuted. I’m grateful that the U.S. Attorney’s Office shares our determination to protect the integrity of the SSA’s programs for those who rely on them now and into the future,” Special Agent in Charge Margaret Moore-Jackson, SSA/Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
The SSA/OIG led the investigation which led to the indictment and subsequent conviction of Everett Mechem. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Gunn and Christian Lampe represented the United States at trial.