Auto dealers indicted in purported disability scam

9 people in the Seattle area have been indicted on federal charges, all of them in reference to a years-long series of schemes to defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA). The combined total amount of money fraudulently obtained in these cases exceeds $700,000.

One case involves Ronnie George, 50, and Nancy Stone, 45, of Kent, WA, both of whom face multiple charges of theft and Social Security fraud. Prosecutors allege that George applied for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits over 20 years ago, claiming to be so severely mentally handicapped that he was incapable of learning to read or write and could not care for himself or drive. Stone claimed to be his caregiver, collecting payment from the government as well. During most of the period of time in question, George was in fact working as a car and recreational vehicle salesman, according to the indictment. Some estimates claim that the couple defrauded the government of more than $240,000 in total.

In another indictment, Johnny George, 53, along with his wife Linda, 54, and their children, Paul George, age 35, Danna George and Cookie Miller, were all charged with bilking the government out of over $338,000 over a 31 year period. Prosecutors allege that Johnny George filed for a second Social Security number and began to collect disability benefits under the fraudulent number in 1979. Paul George allegedly filed for disability in 1983. Both men had apparently also claimed to have been so incapacitated that they were unable to work. However, Johnny George owned and operated a car dealership, while Paul George was employed as a finance and sales manager at Pacific Auto Zone, a job which purportedly netted him in excess of $70,000 in addition to his other creative financing enterprise. The other family members have been charged with lying to government workers in an effort to conceal the frauds.

In yet a third case, Anthony George, 37, and Roxanne George, 35, both from Mill Creek, WA, have been charged with using a false identity to obtain disability payments. According to the indictment, Anthony George is purported to have filed for a second Social Security number under the name of Sonny Fisher, and subsequently filing for disability under that assumed identity. Once again, Roxanne George is accused of being an accessory to the crime by intentionally lying about her husband’s ability to work. While he was collecting disability benefits, Anthony George worked as (what else?) a used car dealer. In this case, the fraud is alleged to have cost the taxpayers over $116,000.

You just have to wonder, “How does this sort of thing happen?” How does someone get away with committing fraud from the U.S. Government for over 30 years, and get away with almost a quarter of a million dollars? It’s just unfathomable.