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Justice News

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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

San Juan Island Man who Falsely Tried to Collect Disability Benefits Found Guilty of Conspiracy, Mail Fraud & False Statements

Claimed To Be Physically Disabled While Working At Coffee Shop And Aquarium And Playing Basketball

            The former owner of a San Juan Island coffee shop named “Criminal Coffee,” was found guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of conspiracy, mail fraud and making false statements, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  CORY MICHAEL EGLASH, 52, was found guilty following a four-day jury trial.  The jury deliberated about two hours before convicting EGLASH of conspiracy to defraud the United States, four counts of mail fraud and making false statements to the government.  EGLASH’s long-time girlfriend Ramona Hayes, 41, was also charged in the case.  She pleaded guilty prior to trial.  Sentencing for EGLASH is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on April 28, 2014.

            According to filings in the case and testimony at trial, both EGLASH and Hayes filed claims with the Social Security Administration stating they were disabled and unable to work.  In addition to his own application, EGLASH made statements as verification for Hayes’s disability claim.  Hayes’s application, filed in early 2011, claimed she was unable to deal with the public and could not venture outside.   EGLASH’s application, filed in November 2011, stated that he was so disabled that he was “almost home-bound,” and could not work or play sports.  The investigation by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General revealed that both EGLASH and Hayes worked at the coffee shop they owned, and that EGLASH also earned $17 an hour working at a public aquarium on San Juan Island.  In fact, in the same week that he submitted his application saying he could not be physically active, he participated in two full-court pick-up basketball games at the community center.  At trial, prosecutors showed videos of EGLASH and Hayes working at the ‘Criminal Coffee’ shop.

            EGLASH’s application was never approved.  Hayes wrongfully collected more than $42,000 before the fraud was detected.

            Conspiracy to Defraud the United States is punishable by up to ten years in prison, mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and making false statements to the government is punishable by up to five years in prison.

            The case was investigated by the Social Security Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) and was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson and Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods.  Mr. Wilkinson prosecutes Social Security fraud cases in federal court as part of a partnership between the United States Attorney’s Office and the Social Security Administration Office of the General Counsel.
Updated March 23, 2015