Social Security Administrative Law Judge Charged with Accepting Sexual Gratuity, Obstruction & Stealing SSA Records
BIRMINGHAM – Federal prosecutors today charged a former administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration for engaging in a sex act with, and other activities related to a Social Security beneficiary, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, SSA-Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Margaret Jackson and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger Stanton.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a three-count information in U.S. District Court charging PAUL STRIBLING CONGER JR., 73, of Akron, Ala., with obstructing justice, accepting a gratuity for an official act of a public official and stealing government property. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed a plea agreement with Conger in which he acknowledges the charges and agrees he will plead guilty to them. Conger is scheduled for arraignment Sept. 15.
Conger served as an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration from May 1999 to April 2014, presiding over hearings to determine whether someone who applied for disability or other SSA benefits qualified to receive them. Conger’s judicial chambers were in the federal courthouse in Tuscaloosa.
According to the charges and Congers’ plea agreement:
In July 2013, Conger presided over the claims hearing of a woman identified in court documents as T.M., who subsequently was approved for SSI benefits, including future monthly payments and retroactive benefits. In November 2013, T.M. discussed Conger with a mutual acquaintance of theirs and was given information that led her to approach the judge about receiving her retroactive SSI benefits in a lump sum of about $10,000.
On Nov. 19, 2013, T.M. met Conger in his chambers at the Tuscaloosa federal courthouse, seeking the lump sum benefits payment. There, the two engaged in sexual activity. Over ensuing weeks, they remained in contact through phone calls and text messages.
Conger is charged with illegal receipt of a gratuity for his conduct with T.M.
He is charged with theft of government property for using T.M.’s records from the SSA database to learn more about her. The information included medical records and identifiers such as her Social Security number.
Conger is charged with obstruction for attempting to obtain T.M.’s cell phone and destroy it after learning that he was the subject of a workplace complaint and an OIG investigation. According to the court records, Conger paid someone, “Individual B,” to obtain the phone and provided the individual with material from T.M.’s SSA file to help that person find her.
As further alleged, Conger falsely told federal agents that he never had any physical or sexual contact with a claimant, including T.M., even after being notified that he was the target of a federal grand jury investigation.
The maximum penalty for obstruction is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for the gratuity charge is two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the maximum penalty for the theft of government property charge is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
SSA-OIG and FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamarra Matthews Johnson is prosecuting.