Four Arlington residents have been indicted in a scheme to steal money from the Social Security Administration that started in October 2011 and lasted until January, according to federal officials.
The thefts involved one man who was an agent with the administration.
Carwin Shaw, Amanda Johnson, April Harvey and Lanusha Lemmons pleaded not guilty in federal court and have been released on bail. They face one count each of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count each of theft of government funds, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
The indictment alleges that Shaw, 33, a Social Security agency representative who worked in the Grand Prairie office, cut additional checks to co-conspirators by saying their initial checks had been lost or stolen.
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Shaw then met with the co-conspirators and was paid in cash for his services, the indictment says. He accesses the Social Security computer system and waived repayment to the administration so the government would never recover any of the stolen funds, the release said.
Shaw persuaded other Social Security employees, often his friends, to co-sign the administrative waiver needed to stop repayment to the government after duplicate checks were cashed, a federal indictment says.
Each co-conspirator represented a minor Social Security beneficiary, according to the release. According to the indictment, Shaw also accessed records for several beneficiaries and altered or deleted verified income from the agency’s database, increasing the amount of monthly benefits payable to each beneficiary and generating lump-sum back payments to those beneficiaries.
Johnson, 35, Harvey, 36, and Lemmons, 25, received multiple checks from the Social Security Administration and cashed each one, knowing they had no rights to multiple monthly benefit checks, the indictment alleges.
Other co-conspirators not named in the indictment are expected to plead guilty, the news release said.
If convicted, those named in the conspiracy face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine; the theft of government funds count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered, the release said.