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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Ohio

Monday, August 10, 2015

Akron man sentenced to 30 months in prison for claiming he was disabled while actually working

An Akron man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for 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, pleaded guilty earlier this year to 11 counts, including 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."

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. He executed this scheme from approximately November 2002 through April 2014, according to court documents.

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 prosecuted the case following an investigation by the SSA Office of Inspector General and the OBWC.

Financial Fraud
Updated August 10, 2015