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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia

Friday, October 24, 2014

Brunswick Man Sentenced Prison For Theft Of Social Security And Medicare Benefit

Brunswick, GA: Jerry Barnett, 64, of Brunswick, Georgia, was sentenced this week by United States District Court Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to serve 5 months in prison and 5 months’ house arrest, to repay $82,864 in stolen proceeds, and to forfeit an additional $75,000 after earlier pleading guilty to stealing just over $82,000 in Social Security and Medicare benefits.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea and sentencing hearings, Barnett was deemed unable to work and approved to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2005.  Barnett returned to work in May 2007, however, and concealed his employment income from SSA by accepting payment in his spouse’s name.  When offered an opportunity to correct his status in March 2013, Barnett falsely denied he had any employment income and certified that he remained unable to work.  From May 2007 until October 2013, Barnett wrongfully collected $75,161 in disability payments and $7,703.18 in Medicare benefits.  As part of his sentence, Barnett was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $82,864.18 to the SSA and Medicare.  In addition to restitution, the Court ordered Barnett to forfeit another $75,000.00 to the U. S. Government.

United States Attorney Edward Tarver stated, “Federal benefits programs are meant to help those who are truly in need.  Our Office will continue to aggressively prosecute federal program fraud to recover the taxpayers’ money and ensure it is put to its proper use.”

Thomas Caul, Special Agent in Charge for the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, Atlanta Field Division (Southeast), said, “The Office of the Inspector General has no higher priority than the investigation and prosecution of those who violate the public trust.  I’m grateful that the U. S. Attorney’s Office shares our determination to ensure the integrity of SSA’s programs.”

The case was investigated jointly by the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human Services.  Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer G. Solari prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.  For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

Updated April 13, 2015