You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Former Railroad Employee’s Disability Fraud Netted Over $447K

NORFOLK, Va. – Jeffrey A. Ratliff, 60, of Chesapeake, pleaded guilty today to charges of theft of government property related to claiming over $447,000 in disability benefits from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RBB) over the last 20 years.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Ratliff worked as a pipefitter for Norfolk Southern railroad from September 1974 until March 1995. From April 1995 to August 2015, Ratliff collected monthly disability benefits from the RRB while concealing his employment as a real estate agent. In July 1995, Ratliff applied for a disability annuity for injuries sustained on the job in 1990.  In his application Ratliff falsely claimed that his injuries prevented him from working and that he had stopped working for the real estate firm in May 1995.

Each year, Ratliff was sent a “Disability Reminder Notice” from the RRB, reminding him of his legal obligation to notify the Board if there was a change in his employment status. Ratliff never notified the RRB that he was working as a real estate agent, and continued to receive disability benefits for 20 years, totaling $447,483.74. On July 22, 2015, Ratliff submitted to a voluntary interview with federal agents, and after being confronted with evidence, admitted that he worked as a real estate agent and was paid using his wife’s social security number to hide his income.

Ratliff was charged by criminal information on August 8 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced on January 20, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Acting Special Agent in Charge James Ellis, U.S. Railroad Retirement Board- Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by Magistrate Judge Robert J. Krask.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa E. O’Boyle is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:16-cr-110.

Updated September 14, 2016