In the latest in a long string of charges and convictions this year for Social Security crimes, Wisconsin man John Fischer was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Fischer, 63, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and an additional three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to additional income fraud, according to a press release from the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Over an eight-year period, Fischer “fraudulently received more than $73,500 in federal and state SSI benefits by knowingly hiding numerous funds from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).” He also “applied for SSI claiming he met all the criteria, but in fact he had bank accounts, investment accounts and vehicles that put him well above the $2,000 limit.”
In addition, according to the Justice Department, Fischer bought two SUVs without telling SSA about the money or the vehicles. He also cashed in on a Roth IRA unknown to the agency. The government seized two of his vehicles and he was ordered to pay restitution.
Fischer asked a judge for a probation sentence. His request was denied because his “serious and long-standing criminal behavior warranted a substantial prison sentence for criminal purposes, prevented others from committing fraud, and bolstered public trust in social safety net programs such as SSI.”
“SSI benefits are meant to help people in real need,” Acting US Attorney Richard G. Frohling said in the press statement. “Individuals who lie about their own circumstances to falsely obtain such benefits harm every taxpayer and harm those in need by undermining the integrity of these vital programs.”
“SSI is a critical safety net providing much-needed assistance,” Andrew Boockmeier, the special agent in charge of the Inspector General’s Social Security Administration Office, Chicago Field Division, also said in the press statement. “Mr. Fischer’s fraudulent actions – failing to report and attempting to hide his assets – caused SSA to falsely pay benefits for which it was ineligible. SSA OIG will continue its efforts to protect SSA benefits from fraud and abuse. Thank you the US Attorney’s Office to prosecute this case.”
In March, in Wisconsin’s western district, Christopher Hynek was sentenced to a year and a day incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release, also for Social Security fraud. Hynek had pleaded guilty last fall for failing to inform SSA of events affecting his eligibility for Social Security benefits for disability insurance. Nearly a decade earlier, Hynek had continued to work while claiming he was disabled.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National importance, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who also contributes to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Life Without Fear, Backstage magazine, Broad Street review and Split today. Stephen is a co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.