Alleged Business Scammers Indicted After Nationwide Scheme to Defraud Investors, Including Elderly, of More than $30M
SALT LAKE CITY – Benjie Leroy Christensen, age 53, of Roosevelt, Utah, will be in federal court in Salt Lake City Wednesday morning for an initial appearance on an indictment charging him with one count of Social Security fraud and one count of theft of government money.
The hearing will be at 11 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner. The potential maximum penalty for Social Security fraud is five years in prison. Theft of government money has a potential 10-year sentence. Both counts have potential fines of $250,000.
The indictment alleges that Christensen, who received Social Security benefits and knew he had a duty to report any event or change of circumstances affecting his right to have the benefits, failed to disclose such an event. Christensen’s concealment or failure to disclose the event resulted in overpayments of $202,671.60.
Christensen was receiving Social Security disability insurance benefits based on a claim he was unable to work because of a medical condition. His wife and children later applied for auxiliary benefits based on his record. An investigation conducted by a Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General agent, showed Christensen was actually working during the time he was receiving disability benefits. An agent with the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation also contributed to the case.
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals named in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.