One-fourth of Social Security disability benefits were improperly awarded, according to a Senate report published last September. Outright fraud accounts for a lot of that. National Review Online thought you might like to put a face to the phenomenon, so here’s our Top Ten list of the most outrageous disability cheaters of the past year:
No. 10: The Marijuana Entrepreneur
In 2011, federal agents raided more than two dozen medical-marijuana businesses in Montana. At the Missoula home and warehouse of Scott Lee Hubeny, 48, they found 243 marijuana plants, several pounds of marijuana, and processing equipment. It was a profitable business: Between January 2010 and April 2011, Hubeny had deposited more than $37,000 into his bank accounts.
But Hubeny wasn’t supposed to be fit to work at all. He’d been collecting disability since 2000, receiving $1,400 a month. The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General found that while Hubeny was running his lucrative medical-marijuana business, he received thousands in disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
The marijuana grower pled guilty and was sentenced in May to five years of probation. He also has to pay back the $25,200 he stole from taxpayers.
No. 9: The Heir
When Robert Frese, 57, came into a substantial inheritance, he kept it secret. Claiming disability, the Exeter, N.H., man had been receiving Supplemental Security Income, a Social Security program available only for those living in poverty.
When he received his inheritance, Frese allegedly began falsifying the financial documents he was required to submit to the Social Security Administration, hiding his new wealth.
Frese received more than $62,000 before he was caught. He pled guilty in April and faces up to five years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.
No. 8: The Gambling Conspiracist
Charles Daniel Koss, 63, has some crazy imaginings about government: He reportedly thought that when the U.S. went off the gold standard in 1933, it began using its citizens as collateral for loans. By pledging their newborn baby’s birth certificate, parents could create a secret trust fund within the U.S. Treasury that the child could later access, Koss reportedly thought. The Department of Justice, you will not be surprised to discover, has called this so-called Redemption Theory “totally without merit,” adding that it has “no basis in law or fact.”
Nevertheless, after he’d been caught, Koss tried to repay the stolen money using his nonexistent Treasury account. It was the latest of many mistakes.
Despite claiming that myoneural disorder and hypertension prevented him from holding a job, Koss had long been working as a full-time loan officer. He collected disability payments for more than a decade, receiving more than $212,000.
Koss’s professed health problems didn’t keep him from bowling, boating, golfing, and playing horseshoes. And he was known as a gambler: At one casino, he had reportedly gambled away $260,000, the Kansas City Star reports.