Social Security Administration Employee and Husband Convicted in Public Benefit Fraud Scheme
Montgomery, Ala. – On Thursday, February 15, 2018, a federal jury found two Montgomery residents guilty of fraud and witness tampering, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr. The two defendants were Nakia Palmer, 35, a former employee of the Social Security Administration, and her husband, Nathaniel Palmer, 30. Nakia Palmer was convicted of mail fraud, theft of government property, Social Security benefit fraud, and food stamp fraud. The jury convicted Nathaniel Palmer of mail fraud, theft of government property, and witness tampering. Each defendant was found guilty of all counts in which he or she was charged.
The trial evidence showed that the Palmers lied about their incomes and living arrangements for the purposes of fraudulently obtaining Social Security benefits on behalf of Nakia Palmer’s minor son. Specifically, Nakia Palmer falsely informed Social Security employees in Dothan, Alabama that she was an actress living in California. She further told Social Security that she left her minor son in her husband’s exclusive custody. She told these lies so that Social Security would not consider her income in determining whether her son was eligible for benefits and would only consider her husband’s income. All the while, Nakia Palmer worked for Social Security in the Montgomery office and was not an actress in California when applying for the benefits. The evidence also showed that the Palmers did not use the fraudulently obtained benefits to support Nakia Palmer’s child. Rather, the couple spent the money on the purchase of a vehicle. According to the evidence, Nakia Palmer made similar false claims for the purpose of obtaining food stamps. In total, the Palmers received approximately $25,000 in benefits to which they were not entitled.
As for the witness tampering, the government proved that, after becoming aware that he was under investigation, Nathaniel Palmer asked his next-door neighbor to lie to investigators regarding the family’s living arrangements.
“Government benefit programs exist to ensure that those in need do not go without the necessities of life,” said United States Attorney Franklin. “The Palmers abused the system not out of need, but to maintain their lifestyles. In carrying out their greedy scheme, the Palmers apparently thought that they were above the law. I hope that this verdict sends the message that the theft of taxpayers’ dollars will not go unpunished.”
“The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has no higher priority than the investigation and prosecution of employees who violate the public’s trust by using their knowledge of the SSA programs to defraud the very agency that employs them,” stated SSA-OIG Special Agent in Charge Margaret Moore-Jackson. “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.”
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the vital programs that protect the welfare and health of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Derrick Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
A date for sentencing has not yet been set. Both defendants face maximum sentences of 20 years’ imprisonment, as well as substantial monetary penalties.
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, as well as the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General. The United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General assisted in the investigation, along with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross and Joshua Wendell are prosecuting the case.