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Press Release

Lieutenant of the Memphis Fire Department Sentenced in Scheme to Defraud the Social Security Administration

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – Phillip Tolbert, 47, of Bartlett, has been sentenced to two years’ probation, including six months of home confinement, for defrauding the Social Security Administration. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the sentence today.

According to the indictment and information presented in court, from August to December 2013, Tolbert, a lieutenant for the City of Memphis Fire Department, defrauded the Social Security Administration by applying for and receiving benefit payments on behalf of his daughters after the death of his wife, the girls' stepmother.

Tolbert falsely stated that his daughters lived with him and his wife, and that his wife provided for the girls' every need. Based on those fraudulent representations, Tolbert was ultimately paid $60,528 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "One of the primary functions of this office is to protect the United States Treasury, and the ability of eligible beneficiaries to receive Social Security benefits. Fraudulent schemes and crimes of dishonesty do not pay, and will be exposed."

On November 28, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr., sentenced Tolbert to two years’ probation, the first six months to be served in home confinement, followed by six months of community service and ordered Tolbert to pay restitution of $60,528.

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Murrell Foster and Annie Christoff prosecuted this case on the government’s behalf.


Cherri Green
Public Information Officer

Updated November 30, 2018