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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 16, 2016

New Carrollton Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Over $110,000 in Social Security Benefits

Also Fraudulently Received Over $593,000 in Treasury Pension Benefits

Baltimore, Maryland – Calelah John Lattisaw, age 58, of New Carrollton, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud arising from a scheme to steal $110,107 in social security benefits.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division; and John L. Phillips, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, U.S. Department of the Treasury - Office of Inspector General.

According to his guilty plea, in February 1993, Lattisaw began receiving Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a disability.  In order to receive benefits, Lattisaw was required to report to SSA information regarding his income, resources and living arrangements. Lattisaw admitted that at the time of his application, he concealed from SSA that he was living with two other individuals, both of whom were also receiving SSA benefits.

In addition, Lattisaw took steps to hide additional income and assets from SSA. Specifically, in 1997, Lattisaw was living with his sister-in-law, S.L., who died on November 23, 1997.  At the time of her death S.L. was receiving Social Security Survivor Benefits, as well as a D.C. pension, administered by the U.S. Treasury.  Both benefits were paid by direct deposit to her bank account.  Prior to her death, Lattisaw was added as a co-signor to S.L.’s bank account under the name John. H. Lattisaw, using the social security number of another individual, B.K.  Neither SSA, nor the U.S. Treasury were advised of S.L’s death.  Although Lattisaw knew that he had no legal entitlement to S.L.’s beneifts, he withdrew virtually all of the SSA and pension benefits from S.L.’s account via ATM withdrawals and debit purchases.  Lattisaw did not advise SSA of this additional income and because he had used an alias and the SSN of another person on the bank account, any check run by SSA to locate additional income would have been unsuccessful.

In 2003, while Lattisaw was receiving S.L.’s benefits and his own SSI benefits, Lattisaw married an elderly woman, M.B.  Shortly after marrying M.B., Lattisaw attempted to sell her home, but her family blocked the sale and had the marriage annulled.  In 2006, Lattisaw moved M.B. out of her nursing facility and in to the home he shared with his girlfriend.  Lattisaw remarried M.B. and became power of attorney over one of her bank accounts and the co-signor on another bank account, again using his alias, John H. Lattisaw, and B.K.’s SSN.  M.B. died on June 11, 2006 at Lattisaw’s home.  Five days later, Lattisaw liquidated a certificate of deposit at one of M.B’s accounts and withdrew $161,000.  Lattisaw subsequently deposited those funds into a new account opened in the name of his alias, using B.K.’s SSN.  Lattisaw did not report the change in his living conditions, nor this additional income to SSA.

Had SSA been aware of Lattisaw’s income, resources, or living arrangements, he would not have qualified for SSI benefits.  Between 2000 and 2015, Lattisaw received $110,107 in SSI benefits to which he was not entitled.

Lattisaw and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Lattisaw will be sentenced to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.  U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for August 24, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. 

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General and U.S. Department of the Treasury - Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation and thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Perry and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamera L. Fine, who are prosecuting the case.

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Updated May 16, 2016