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Press Release

Akron Man Accused of Defrauding Agencies out of nearly $350,000

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

An 11-count federal indictment was filed charging Akron man with defrauding federal and state agencies out of nearly $350,000 by claiming he was disabled while actually working as a home-repair contractor, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

James Van Buskirk, 53, faces charges of theft of government funds, wire fraud, and fraudulently securing Social Security benefits.

"These programs exist to help those who are truly disabled and cannot work," Dettelbach said. "We will continue to prosecute those who abuse programs like these for their own enrichment."

The indictment alleges Van Buskirk stole $75,823 in Social Security benefits designated for the truly disabled by reporting complete disability while still performing physical labor as a home repair contractor.  He similarly falsely applied for and received $269,932 from the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (OBWC) through the same scheme to defraud.

Van Buskirk executed this scheme from approximately November 2002 through April 2014, according to the indictment.   

The indictment also alleges that Van Buskirk concealed and failed to disclose his self-employment, knowing that it would affect his right to Social Security disability benefits.

Assistant United States Attorney Matthew J. Cronin is prosecuting the case following an investigation by the SSA Office of Inspector General and the OBWC.

If convicted, the court will determine the defendant’s sentence after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum.  In most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 17, 2015