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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Couple Pleads Guilty to $99,000 Social Security Fraud


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nevada, Mo., husband and wife pleaded guilty in federal court today to making false statements as part of a $99,000 scheme to defraud Social Security.

Reta Jo Carpenter, 53, and her husband, Oren Daniel Carpenter, 52, both of Nevada, each waived their right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to making false statements to a federal government agency.

According to today’s plea agreement, Reta Carpenter is unemployed, disabled and married to Oren Carpenter (an employee of the Nevada R-5 School District). She had been receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits since 1990.

The Carpenters admitted today that Reta Carpenter falsely stated on her benefit application in 1997 that Oren Carpenter no longer resided with her. As a result, the Social Security Administration removed Oren Carpenter from the household in its records, and Oren Carpenter’s annual income was no longer considered in determining Reta Carpenter’s eligibility for SSI benefits. This resulted in overpayments to Reta Carpenter totaling $99,411 as of August 23, 2012.

Reta Carpenter later repeated this claim on written forms, and both Reta and Oren Carpenter repeated this claim in interviews with federal agents.

Under federal statutes, Reta and Oren Carpenter are each subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. They were investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General.
Updated January 15, 2015