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Press Release

Martha’s Vineyard Man Pleads Guilty to Social Security Fraud and Tax Evasion

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

BOSTON – An Oak Bluffs man pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Boston to stealing $160,025 in Social Security benefits and falsifying his 2010 tax return.

Vernon Harris, 63, pleaded guilty to theft of public money and tax evasion after being charged in an Information in November 2015.  U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for March 10, 2016.

In 2002, Harris applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.  In his application, Harris stated that he stopped working in 2001 due to his disabilities; however, in reality, Harris was running a trucking brokerage firm called SilkRoad Logistics out of his home on Martha’s Vineyard when he applied for benefits.  Harris wrote himself checks from the business’s account totaling as much as $60,000 to $70,000 in some years and concealed the business from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  In a 2012 letter Harris sent to the SSA, he falsely affirmed that “my wife is and has been the sole income earner in our household since my disability in 2001.”  Harris continued to collect disability benefits while running SilkRoad Logistics until 2015.  In total, he illegally received $160,025 in benefits.  Harris also falsified information pertaining to SilkRoad Logistics on his 2010 federal income tax return.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Updated February 4, 2016