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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hurricane man pleads guilty in federal court to theft of government money

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today that Vallas Paul Bell, 31, of Hurricane, West Virginia, pleaded guilty to fraudulently taking $24,660 in Social Security benefits to which he was not entitled, in a hearing before United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston in Charleston.

Bell admitted to receiving and cashing his deceased mother’s Social Security benefits beginning June 2011.  The funds were deposited in the mother’s City National Bank checking account. Bell continued to withdraw the benefits through April 2013.

The Social Security Administration turned off the benefits in April 2013, after receiving a fraud alert from City National Bank.

Bell faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.  He has also agreed to pay $24, 660 in restitution.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 8, 2015.

The investigation was conducted by the Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration. Assistant United States Attorneys Blair L. Malkin and Erik S. Goes are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated January 13, 2015