George W. Myers, 59, of Telford, appeared in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on Monday and pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of theft of public money. The charge is in connection with benefits fraud Myers perpetrated against the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board.
Prosecutors say Myers fraudulently obtained slightly more than $362,000 in benefits, consisting of $327,000 in annuity payments and $35,000 in health benefits.
Myers faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 10.
According to the plea agreement, Myers worked as a welder for CSX Trans from October 1978 until August 2000. A few months later, Myers filed an initial application for disability and from December 2000 through April 2007, he received intermittent disability payments while the application was the subject of litigation.
Following numerous denials and subsequent appeals, Myers was finally awarded ongoing disability payments retroactive to July 2004 and Medicare coverage retroactive to January 2007. According to court records, Myers continued to receive full annuity payments and Medicare coverage from July 2004 through September 2016.
During the process, prosecutors say Myers signed forms on multiple occasions indicating that he understood that failing to report work and earnings promptly was a crime punishable by federal law and could result in criminal prosecution and/or penalty deductions from his annuity payments.
Despite this, Myers submitted disability update reports where he falsely represented that he had not worked for anyone or for himself and his medical condition kept him from working, according to the plea agreement.
More specifically, Myers indicated in February 2006 he was not at all able to dress himself, was not at all able to perform outdoor chores, did not expect to work during the next 12 months and had not been self-employed in the last 12 months.
However, in the plea agreement, Myers admitted to working for various people and companies between August 2004 and October 2016. Some of the work included performing physically demanding contracting, repair and maintenance work for at least two individuals who paid him approximately $58,612 for his work.
The Railroad Retirement Board, Office of the Inspector General conducted this investigation.