The Insanity of It All


When a criminal defendant uses an insanity plea, it means they declare they did not understand they were doing something wrong while committing a crime. (That’s my non-legal definition.) A Department of Justice press release tells about a woman who claimed an insanity defense regarding a 17-year stint of receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) she did not deserve.

SSI is a federal income supplement program designed to provide assistance for aged, blind and disabled people with little or no income. The program provides financial assistance to meet basic needs including food, clothing and shelter. According to the press release, the female defendant lied to the Social Security Administration (SSA) about her living arrangements to fraudulently collect SSI and Medicaid benefits. (She repeatedly told officials over 17 years that she was separated from her husband and not sharing living expenses. In reality, she was living with him and receiving financial support.)

The 57-year-old woman, who claimed an insanity defense at trial, and her husband were both convicted by jury on one count of making a false statement. Their scheme allowed the wife to collect more than $280,000 in benefits from the SSA and the Kentucky Medicaid program. The charges carry a maximum of five years in prison.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. If that is true, then this couple may qualify. Their repeated illegal actions finally resulted in a different result – prosecution and penalties for defrauding the government instead of a consistent income of benefits they don’t deserve.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on a press release titled, ”Boyd County Woman Convicted of Defrauding Social Security Administration Out of $280,000,” issued by the Department of Justice on July 31, 2015.

Tamira Fonville’s job might be described as ”recruiter.” For a time, she profited substantially by enlisting college-age women to participate in a hair show. The problem was, there never was any show, and everything about Fonville’s line of work was a fraud.

She and her partner—both of whom are now in prison—regularly traveled the Interstate 95 corridor from New York to Washington, D.C., visiting shopping malls and other places where young women were known to spend time.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.