Individuals certified as mentally impaired can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Today’s “Fraud of the Day” takes a look at an Eastern Kentucky lawyer, who conspired with a psychologist and a judge to steal hundreds of millions of dollars in disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). He committed Social Security fraud by declaring many of his clients mentally impaired. (It only takes a small village of fraudsters to do an enormous amount of damage to unsuspecting victims.)
Being declared mentally impaired is a double-edged sword. On one hand, if that is an accurate assessment, then at least the impaired person can receive government assistance to help them go about their regular activities of daily living, including cooking, shopping, paying bills, or taking care of personal hygiene. (On the other hand, if it is not true, then life could become difficult for someone saddled with that designation.)
Today’s article focuses on a Pikeville, Kentucky psychologist who was part of the massive disability fraud scheme. He was paid by the mastermind lawyer to sign mental-impairment evaluations for the law firm’s clients, even though the psychologist had not personally examined the patients. (Did I mention that the lawyer’s last name is Conn? Perfect last name for a crime of this type.)
Business was steady. The lawyer represented thousands of clients in Eastern Kentucky who were trying to win disability benefits through the SSA. He hired the psychologist to evaluate his clients’ work-related mental abilities. (The lawyer’s staff apparently prepared five different versions of the evaluation form and randomly passed along completed forms for the psychologist to sign.)
Many of the conditions selected on the evaluation forms did not match up with the disabilities that some of the patients had, but the psychologist signed them anyway. (The lawyer paid the psychologist between $300 and $450 for each form he completed. He also bribed a judge who routinely heard Social Security disability cases to rule in his clients’ favor.) The lawyer also falsified summary reports, radiology reports and other medical evaluations to illegally collect government benefits for his clients.
The lawyer and the judge pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud. The 45-year-old psychologist was convicted by jury of conspiracy to commit Social Security fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and making a false statement on a record submitted to the SSA. Today’s article states that the lawyer, when pleading guilty, said the psychologist had never liked doing the assessments. (I guess he liked the money though. Every penny of the $200,000 he stole.) The psychologist’s lawyer tried to explain that his client had been duped by the lawyer, but the jury only deliberated for three hours before returning a conviction on the four felony charges. (They were not fraudulently impaired. They could see right through him.)
Two months following the conviction, the psychologist challenged the jury’s ruling that he had defrauded the SSA of $550 million in disability benefits. The court denied his bid for acquittal or a new trial due to sufficient evidence to uphold the psychologist’s conviction. Some of the most serious charges carry sentences up to 20 years in prison. (I’d say this criminal’s career in mental health examinations has been officially disabled and he may have plenty of time behind bars in the near future where he can examine his own character.)
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Pikeville psychologist convicted of fraud in disability cases of lawyer Eric Conn” published by the Lexington Herald Leader.
A Pikeville psychologist was convicted Monday of taking part in a massive disability fraud scheme in Eastern Kentucky.
Jurors convicted Alfred Bradley Adkins, 45, of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and making a false statement on a record submitted to the Social Security Administration, according to a court record.