KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A soldier at Ft. Riley was sentenced Wednesday for making false material statements to the Social Security Administration, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
James Scott Nickerson, 38, Ft. Riley, Kan., was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months home confinement and three years of supervised release. He also was ordered to pay $71,734 in restitution to the SSA and an additional $250 to the United States Treasury for a stimulus payment he was not entitled to receive.
Nickerson pleaded guilty to one count of making a false official statement to a federal agency. In his plea, he admitted he was paid a total of $71,734 in disability benefits by the Social Security Administration that he was not eligible to receive. Beginning in October 2009, Nickerson applied for disability benefits under the Wounded Warrior Program. He claimed he was unable to work because of “organic mental disorders” he developed while serving a deployment in Iraq.
While receiving disability benefits, he worked full time for the Army doing various duties, including serving as a platoon sergeant while he claimed to be disabled. He also supervised other soldiers during this period. Nickerson attempted to conceal his actual work activity from SSA by claiming he worked no more than 20 hours a week. On three separate occasions, the defendant completed Work Activity Reports, documents used by SSA to determine if a beneficiary is eligible for disability benefits. On each of these occasions he was asked to identify his supervisors so that SSA could verify his work activity. On all three occasions, he identified persons other than his supervisors. In the plea agreement, the defendant admitted that on a Work Activity Report he completed on Sept. 6, 2010, he falsely reported to SSA that one of his subordinates was his supervisor. He admitted that this was a false material statement to a federal agency.
Grissom commended the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford for their work on the case.