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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 18, 2017

Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty To Social Security Fraud

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., announced today that Ari Elias Baum, 32, of Buffalo, N.Y., pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the Social Security Administration (SSA) concerning his eligibility to receive disability benefits before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who is handling the case, stated that in 2010, the defendant’s Social Security benefits were discontinued after it was determined Baum was outside the United States for a period exceeding 30 consecutive days. In December 2010 and again in March 2013, Baum was advised of his obligation to report to the SSA if he was outside the United States for 30 or more consecutive days.

According to border crossing records, the defendant was outside of the country continuously from March 22, 2013, until August 13, 2013. When contacted by the SSA on December 19, 2013, Baum failed to mention this to the agency. Baum left the United States again on January 1, 2014, and did not return until May 13, 2014.

The defendant traveled to multiple countries including Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and France. Baum’s absence from the United States resulted in an overpayment of Social Security benefits exceeding $6,400.

The plea is the result of an investigation on the part of the United States Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John Grasso and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 15, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. before Judge Skretny.

Updated September 19, 2017