Federal investigation: Latest charges bring total to 15 people, nearly $900K alleged stolen

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Social Security benefits, payments are increasing in 2020; here's how much

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A 15th person has been arrested and charged in a federal benefits investigation that has alleged the theft of nearly $900,000 in public money, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office in Cincinnati.

Napoleon Crawford, 52, of Mason was arrested and appeared in U.S. District Court on July 30 on two counts alleging he stole more than $80,000 in Social Security and Department of Defense benefits earned by his father, a retired Navy officer. His father died in 2016.

Crawford is the latest person charged this year by the federal government in the Southern District of Ohio’s 48-county area based on results of an audit conducted by the Social Security Administration, a division of the U.S. Office of the Inspector General. The investigation has found dozens of Ohioans have illegally collected a deceased relative’s federal retirement, Social Security or veterans benefits, officials said.

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“We will prosecute people who stick their hands in the pockets of taxpayers to steal benefits earned by their relatives,” said David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. “The investigation is continuing and others could be charged.”

The 15 charged allegedly received more than $898,000 in federal benefits.

Among those charged and awaiting sentencing include two from Butler County and two from Montgomery County:

  • Lori Baker, 51 of Hamilton, is charged with one count of stealing Social Security benefits totaling $1,000. She pleaded guilty in April to theft of public money, a misdemeanor, and could face up to a year in prison, five years probation, up to a $100,000 fine and restitution.
  • Nathaniel Carruth, 64, of Dayton, is charged with one count of stealing Social Security benefits totaling $39,676 and one count of stealing Office of Personnel Management Civil Service benefits totaling $35,401. He pleaded guilty in July to both counts. For each count, he faces up to 10 years in prison, three years probation, up to a $250,000 fine and restitution.
  • Ronald Lewis, 43 of Hamilton, is charged with one count of stealing Social Security benefits totaling $55,088. He pleaded guilty in May to theft of public money and faces up to 10 years in prison, three years probation and a $250,000 fine and restitution.
  • Christina Saldana, 41, of West Carrolton, is charged with one count of stealing Social Security benefits totaling $103,042. She has not agreed to a deal nor has been convicted, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.

Under the plea deals, the defendants have agreed to not withdraw or attempt to withdraw their plea, according to the agreements.

Only one person has been sentenced in this case. Debra Edwards, 57, of South Lebanon, was sentenced on July 28 to three years probation with the first 90 days to be served in home detention. Additionally, she was ordered to repay $49,575 in benefits she illegally received.

Five of the other nine people charged are awaiting sentencing.

15 CHARGED IN STEALING FEDERAL BENEFITS

Here are who have been charged with theft of public money following a large Social Security Administration benefits audit:

  • Lori Baker, 51 of Hamilton (awaiting sentencing)
  • Nathaniel Carruth, 64, of Dayton (awaiting sentencing)
  • Ronald Lewis, 43 of Hamilton (awaiting sentencing)
  • Christina Saldana, 41, of West Carrolton (case pending)
  • Debra Edwards, 57, of South Lebanon (sentenced)
  • Napoleon Crawford, 52, of Mason (case pending)
  • Kinnard Asher, 60, of South Lebanon (awaiting sentencing)
  • Wayne Coulter II, 33, of Cincinnati (case pending)
  • Linda Daniels, 62, of Mt. Orab (awaiting sentencing)
  • Douglas Dible, 68, of Richwood (awaiting sentencing)
  • Gloria Funk, 65, of New Lexington (awaiting sentencing)
  • Billy Gray, 44, of Mt. Orab (awaiting sentencing)
  • Laverne Harrison, 60, of Cincinnati (awaiting sentencing)
  • Donald Hawkins Jr., 47, Columbus (case pending)
  • Victor Warren, 52, of Marietta (case pending)