San Juan Island Man who Falsely Tried to Collect Disability Benefits Sentenced to Prison for Conspiracy, Mail Fraud & False Statements
Claimed To Be Physically Disabled While Operating Coffee Shop, Working At Aquarium And Playing Basketball
The former owner of a San Juan Island coffee shop named “Criminal Coffee,” was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to15 months in prison for conspiracy, mail fraud and making false statements, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. The defendant was also ordered to pay full restitution of $42,088 and to pay a $10,000 fine. CORY MICHAEL EGLASH, 52, was found guilty of a scheme to defraud the Social Security Disability program following a four-day jury trial in January 2014. EGLASH’s long-time girlfriend Ramona Hayes, 41, was also charged in the case. She pleaded guilty prior to trial and was sentenced to one year in prison in February 2014. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted that EGLASH had resources –money, family and education – but demonstrated “nothing but the utmost selfish type of behavior… stealing from the destitute… those unable to work.”
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. The videos were drawn from video surveillance conducted by undercover agents.
EGLASH’s application was identified as fraudulent by a caseworker before his benefits were approved. Hayes wrongfully collected more than $42,000 before the fraud was detected.
The case was investigated by the Social Security Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) Cooperative Disability Investigation Unit 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.