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DALLAS — A former employee of the Social Security Administration (SSA) appeared in federal court in Dallas this morning and pleaded guilty, before Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, to his role in a conspiracy to defraud the SSA, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Lead defendant Carwin Shaw, 33, of Arlington, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government funds. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. He will remain on bond pending sentencing, which is set for March 20, 2015, before Chief Judge Fitzwater.
Shaw, along with co-defendants Amanda Johnson, 35, April Harvey, 36, and Lanusha Lemmons, 25, all of Arlington, were each indicted in May 2014 on one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and one count of theft of government funds. Lemmons pleaded guilty late last month to her role in the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13, 2015. Johnson and Harvey are set for trial on January 12, 2015.
According to documents filed in the case, Shaw, who worked as a Service Representative in the SSA’s Mid-Cities Field Office, located in Grand Prairie, Texas, had access to the SSA’s electronic databases. He admitted that he made agreements with co-conspirators to illegally obtain SSA funds by manipulating SSA’s electronic databases to achieve multiple objectives.
In some instances, for example, he manipulated the verified income attributed to Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries that resulted in the issuance of larger payments than authorized, the issuance of payments when none were due, and the removal of legitimate overpayments posted to beneficiary’s record. Shaw further admitted using the SSA’s electronic systems that interface with the U.S. Treasury Department to issue duplicate checks to beneficiaries when only one check was due. Shaw would 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 access the system and waive the overpayment so that it would not be recovered from any future benefits. Each co-conspirator was the representative payee for one minor or otherwise incompetent Social Security beneficiary.
The loss to the SSA as a result of all of Shaw’s relevant conduct is approximately $78,165.
The case was investigated by the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana.