Cleveland man sentenced to jail and ordered to repay $205,000 stolen from taxpayers
A Cleveland man was sentenced to nine months in jail after illegally receiving more than $205,000 in Veterans Affairs benefits over a decade, said Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja and Gavin McClaren, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General’s Cleveland office.
Leon Pinckney, 62, was issued a Social Security Number (SSN) in 1969, which he used to obtain a driver’s license and enlist in the military. In 1984, he fraudulently obtained a second SSN, which he used to obtain another driver’s license.
In 2005, Pinckney used the first SSN to apply for pension benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He was awarded benefits based on his false statement that he was unable to work and had no income. However, from 2005 through 2012, Pinckney continued to work, using the second SSN. In October 2012, he applied for and was approved for Social Security disability benefits under the second SSN, according to court documents.
Overall, Pinckney stole approximately $205,534 from the VA by concealing the other income he was receiving under the second SSN. U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko ordered Pinckney to repay the full amount.
“This defendant deserves to be locked up after more than a decade of stealing from the public,” Sierleja said.
“Pension fraud takes money from vulnerable veterans, leaving taxpayers with the bill,” McClaren said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa J. Sanniti.