DALLAS — Four Arlington, Texas, residents have been charged in a federal indictment, returned by a grand jury in Dallas earlier this month and unsealed yesterday, with conspiracy to defraud the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Lead defendant Carwin Shaw, 33, along with co-defendants Amanda Johnson, 35, and April Harvey, 36, were arrested on May 8, 2014, by special agents with the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) and appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. Each defendant pleaded not guilty and was released on bond. Deputy U.S. Marshals arrested the fourth defendant named in the indictment, Lanusha Lemmons, 25, on Friday. She made her initial appearance in federal court yesterday afternoon and pleaded not guilty. She was released on bond.
Specifically, each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of theft of government funds. A trial date of July 28, 2014, before Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, has been set.
The indictment alleges that Shaw, a Service Representative employed by SSA in the Mid-Cities Field Office in Grand Prairie, Texas, accessed the SSA’s system, cut additional checks to the co-conspirators by alleging their initial check had been lost or stolen, split the second check with the co-conspirator and then accessed the system and waived the overpayment so that it would not be recovered from any future benefits. Each co-conspirator was the representative payee for one minor Social Security beneficiary. Other co-conspirators not named in the indictment are expected to plead guilty in the near future.
“The SSA-OIG will vigorously investigate and bring to justice those SSA employees and other individuals who intentionally defraud the SSA programs,” said Robert Feldt, Special Agent in Charge, SSA-OIG, Dallas Field Division.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. However, if convicted, the conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, and the theft of government funds count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered.
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana.