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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 9, 2014

Renton Man Sentenced to a Year in Prison for Illegally Collecting Nearly $220,000 in Social Security Benefits

For 17 Years Former Boeing Employee Stole Deceased Father’s Benefit Checks

            A 67-year-old Renton, Washington man who illegally collected his father’s Social Security benefit checks for 17 years after his father’s death was sentenced today to a year in prison, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  PATRICK M. DERRICK pleaded guilty to theft of public funds in May 2014, admitting that for 17 years following his father’s death he continued to collect and spend the Social Security payments that were wrongly deposited in his father’s bank account.  In order to execute the fraud, DERRICK repeatedly forged his father’s signature on bank documents.  At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted that Social Security funds are public money set aside for the needy and disabled.  DERRICK “stole from the most vulnerable who need these benefits to survive,” Judge Martinez said.

            According to records filed in the case, DERRICK’s father died in November 1996.  DERRICK never informed the Social Security Administration (SSA) of his father’s death.  Monthly benefits continued to be paid into the father’s bank account, and DERRICK would withdraw the money by writing a check to himself and forging his father’s signature.  He stole 201 monthly Social Security payments totaling $219,032.  In September 2013, SSA learned of the father’s death.   When interviewed by federal agents, DERRICK initially denied knowing about the payments to his father’s account and denied taking the money.  DERRICK had a 21-year military career, followed by a 17-year career with Boeing.  Prosecutors argued that this was not a case where the defendant was living on the margins and needed the extra money to survive.

            Addressing the court, DERRICK said he started taking the money to “make ends meet” between his military and Boeing careers, and never seemed to be able to catch up with the bills.  He admitted using the money to pay college tuition for his daughter and to make donations to his church.  He said it is a relief that the “wait for the knock on the door is over.”

The Western District of Washington is a national leader in pursuing fraud on Social Security benefit programs.  Eight other defendants have been charged over the last 18 months with theft of government funds for fraudulently collecting Social Security benefits for years after their parents’ death.  As a result of the prosecutions, courts in this district have ordered in excess of $1 million in restitution to the United States.  The following are the longest running of these frauds:

RAYMOND C. O’DELL, 70, who now resides in Arizona, was sentenced to six months in federal prison, six months of home detention, $188,436 in restitution and a $20,000 fine for theft of government funds.  O’DELL’s mother died in November 1989, but he failed to notify Social Security and benefits continued to be paid into their joint account. On at least two occasions between November 1989 and June 2012, O’DELL contacted the Social Security Administration to update his mother’s contact information and never informed anyone of her death.

PATTY BUCHANAN, 57, is one of the largest Social Security benefit fraud cases prosecuted as part of the initiative in the Western District of Washington.  BUCHANAN’s father died in May 1993, but she continued to receive and cash his benefit checks using a check cashing business.  She told the outlet her father was infirm and homebound and that she had power of attorney.  Every month for 19 years she cashed the checks – in all, 235 checks for a total of $239,083.  When one of the tellers at the check cashing business became suspicious, BUCHANAN forged a fraudulent power of attorney document.  When staffers at the outlet called to try to speak with BUCHANAN’s father, BUCHANAN had a male friend pretend to be her father.  Ultimately, an anonymous tip to Social Security ended the fraud in December 2012.  BUCHANAN was sentenced to 18 months in prison in June 2013.

DENNIS JAY GORIN, 76, of Eatonville, fraudulently collected about $100,000 in Social Security benefits belonging to his mother following her death in around 2003. GORIN did not notify federal or state authorities of his mother’s death and personally disposed of his mother’s body on property in a rural area. Between 2003 and 2013, GORIN forged his mother’s signature to embezzle an estimated $100,000 worth of Social Security benefits. GORIN pleaded guilty on May 21, 2013, and was sentenced in September 2013 to ten months in prison.

CLAUDIA RUTH GREENAMYER, 72, of University Place, fraudulently collected $219,960 following the death of her mother in 1996 and her father in 2000. The payments were made to bank accounts GREENAMYER held jointly with her parents. GREENAMYER continued to use the money without telling Social Security her parents were deceased. She forged signatures to continue the theft, and when confronted by agents in February 2013, she claimed to have seen her parents one month earlier. GREENAMYER pleaded guilty to theft of government funds on May 15, 2013 and was sentenced in September 2013 to three months in prison.

DAVID MICHAEL COSTA, 77, of Sammamish, fraudulently collected $297,948 of his mother’s Social Security benefits following her death in 1989. While COSTA originally thought the payments coming to the joint bank account were from an annuity, in 1992 he learned they were Social Security payments. Rather than alert authorities and pay back the $40,000 that had wrongly been paid, COSTA continued to collect the benefits for more than 15 years. COSTA forged his mother’s name on documents and substituted his address for hers on all records, updating it three different times over the years. COSTA pleaded guilty on June 3, 2013, and was sentenced in September 2013 to ten months in prison.

These cases were investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) and are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson as part of a partnership venture between the Social Security Administration Office of General Counsel and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Updated March 20, 2015