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Press Release

Northfield man charged with stealing $684,000 after still working while collecting disability benefits for back injury

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


 A Northfield man was charged today with stealing more than $684,000 after still working while collecting disability benefits, said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman.

Thomas H. Cannell, 62, was charged via criminal information with one count of theft of government funds and one count of wire fraud.

Cannell fraudulently collected benefits from Social Security and Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for beginning in 1980, when he developed lower back pain at work. Cannell had been entitled to disability payments from a work-related injury in 1982. However, Cannell was required to report to both agencies whether he returned to work, which would terminate his ability to receive continued payments from both agencies, according to a criminal information.

Cannell developed a scheme where he could conceal his income as a fireplace salesman by not being paid directly from his employers. This scheme continued for decades until investigators uncovered Cannell working in 2016, according to court documents.

Special Agents James Altman from the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and Alec Gilchrist from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, Special Investigations Department, conducted the investigation. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Payum Doroodian is prosecuting the case.

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 information 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.


Mike Tobin

Updated April 13, 2018

Financial Fraud