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Justice News

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Texas Man Sentenced for Theft of SSDI Benefits

Contact: Halsey B. Frank
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257

Portland, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that Carroll
Freemont Pennell, 69, currently of Cushing, Texas and formerly of Brunswick, Maine, was
sentenced in U.S. District Court by Judge George Z. Singal to 2 years of probation and ordered
to pay $29,512 in restitution for stealing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

According to court documents, Pennell was pastor, president and spiritual leader of the
Word of God Fellowship Church in Brunswick for which he was paid a salary. In 1997, Pennell
applied for and obtained SSDI benefits after injuring his back while working in the shipping
department at Grumbacher Brush Company. To get those benefits, Pennell concealed his church
salary from the Social Security Administration by having the church pay it to his wife. As a
result, Pennell received $146,829 worth of SSDI benefits to which he was not entitled. The
court’s ability to award full restitution was limited by the five-year statute of limitations.

In fashioning his sentence, Judge Singal observed that Mr. Pennell was as much a thief as
someone who pickpockets parishioners. He corrupted his church and contributed to the public’s
cynical belief that its leaders are hypocrites. Nevertheless, Judge Singal found that probation
was appropriate for Mr. Pennell given his advanced age and serious health problems.

The investigation was conducted by Office of the Inspector General for the Social
Security Administration.

Updated January 26, 2015