SSA Worker Gets One Year in Prison for Extortion
When we hear about stories that combine crime and the Social Security Administration, it’s generally the case that the fault lies on the side of the consumer. Oftentimes, it’s a layperson who receives theft charges for stealing social security benefits from the government, as in the case of Marlene Moore, who stole $165,000, or India Parker, who stole $41,000. But in Georgia, the roles have been reversed — and a former SSA employee is facing a year in prison for extorting claims processing fees from applicants for social security benefits.
Extortion in the SSA
Cordell Fleming, a 47-year-old resident of Conyers, Georgia, has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to one count of extortion.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates summarizes the SSA representative’s actions in no uncertain terms, saying Fleming “…extorted money from needy, disabled members of our community by promising them expedited Social Security payments in return.” She adds:
A federal employee, in a position of public trust, preying on the disabled and the indigent shocks the conscience. The defendant earned every day of this prison sentence.
Thomas Caul, who works as a Special Agent for the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General, shares Yates’ opinion of Fleming’s misdeeds. “While employee fraud is rare in SSA’s dedicated work force,” Caul reassures, “the Office of the Inspector General has no higher priority than the investigation and prosecution of the rare individual who violates the public trust. I’m pleased to see this case brought to a successful conclusion and grateful that the U.S. Attorney’s Office shares our determination to ensure the integrity of SSA’s programs.”
Fleming Exploits the Claims System
Prior to his sentencing, Fleming had been working as a claims representative for the SSA. Claims representatives staff SSA offices around the nation, and are responsible for processing the hundreds of thousands of claims for SSI and SSDI benefits that bombard the SSA on an annual basis. Because of the huge amount of applications that must be reviewed, the process can be slow — which, understandably, can be nerve-racking for people who rely on government assistance due to age, illness, or disability.
Fleming, who knew the sluggish system from the inside out, was well aware of this fact, and took advantage of the anxieties that pending social security applications so often cause.
In addition to his prison sentence, Fleming has also been sentenced to complete 120 hours of community service. Upon his release, he will subject to three years of supervision.
Over a seven month period spanning from October of 2012 to April of 2013, Fleming extorted money from a grand total of nine SSI recipients, often going so far as creating falsified documents to give his operation a greater air of legitimacy. He extorted a total of $500 to $1,800 per person.
White collar crimes like fraud, extortion, and theft all come with serious penalties. If you or a loved one is facing criminal allegations, you need an experienced defense attorney on your side. Contact the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates online today to arrange a consultation, or call (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.
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