A Kent, Washington man whose disability fraud scheme kept a homeless Denver man from getting assistance was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 33 months in prison and $200,118 in restitution, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. RICHARD ALAN DYSON, 62, stole the identity of a homeless man in Denver, Colorado and from 1999 to 2015 used the identity to work in construction while still collecting disability benefits in his own name. When the Colorado man tried to get public assistance he was initially disqualified because of the work history attributed to him in Washington State due to DYSON’s identity theft. At yesterday’s sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez also imposed three years of supervised release.
“This defendant did not just steal from a government program. He kept a disabled man from getting the Social Security benefits to which he was entitled,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “The prison sentence imposed in this case sends a clear message that identity theft does real harm and will not be tolerated.”
According to records in the case, DYSON applied for and was granted Social Security Disability in 1992, claiming he was unable to work due to a mental disability. He collected monthly disability payments until his arrest in 2015. In 1999, DYSON began earning income and reporting wages in Washington State under the name and Social Security number of a Colorado man. Between 2007 and 2014, DYSON collected 99 weeks of unemployment benefits using the Colorado man’s name and Social Security number. DYSON lived a completely separate, working life as the Colorado man. DYSON maintained membership in a labor union, completed training courses, paid dues, and held union membership cards, all in the Colorado man’s name. In all, he inhabited the stolen identity for nearly fifteen years, always careful to keep his two personas separate to further his scheme.
Writing to the court, prosecutors noted the fraud was uncovered when the Colorado victim applied for assistance. “This investigation was initiated when a disabled, homeless man in Colorado applied for the critical public welfare benefits needed for survival, only to be denied because his record showed he was working regularly in Washington State. Defendant’s misappropriation of (the victim’s) identification not only cheated the system as a whole, it specifically harmed (the victim) and deprived him of help he required….The victim’s vulnerability and life on the margin of society may have allowed Defendant’s scheme to go on as long as it did, but the impact of his offense is very real….”
The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Diggs. Mr. Diggs is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to prosecute fraud cases in federal court.