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Press Release

St. Albans Man Sentenced for Theft of Social Security Income Benefits

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Joseph McLaughlin was sentenced to six months of federal incarceration, to be followed by six months of home confinement at a drug rehabilitation shelter in Beckley, West Virginia for the felony offense of fraudulently obtaining Social Security Administration benefits, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  McLaughlin, 38, of  St. Albans, West Virginia will also be required to serve an additional three years on supervised release.  He was further ordered by the Court to pay restitution to the United States Treasury in the amount of $121,436.  The investigation was conducted by the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Social Security Administration. 

“For years McLaughlin continued to receive federal benefits to which he was not entitled,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “Social Security fraud is rampant in West Virginia and we are doing everything we can to hold fraudsters accountable.”

McLaughlin applied for Title II Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits in 2007 for the care of a child as the child’s representative payee.  These Social Security representative payee benefits are based on income and living arrangements and create a duty on the recipient to report a change in living arrangements.  There is also a requirement that the SSA money received actually be used for the well-being of the child.  McLaughlin indicated that the child resided with him and he used the SSA benefits for the child’s care.  In fact, McLaughlin’s child had moved out in 2011 and was no longer residing with him.  The absence of the child would have ended the amount of money he was receiving every month from the Social Security Administration as the child’s representative payee.  From April 2011 through February 2017, McLaughlin  received at least $121,436 in Social Security benefits in excess of the amount he was due and that were not spent on the child. On August 15, 2017, McLaughlin  gave a detailed statement to federal investigators with the OIG.  McLaughlin admitted that he was receiving money that he was not entitled to receive and that the child had moved out of the home in 2011.

Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes handled the prosecution.  United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. presided over the hearing.


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Updated May 8, 2019