CONCORD - Paul Gracey, 57, formerly of Vermont, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court to theft of government funds, United States Attorney John J. Farley announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in October 2014, Gracey was found disabled and eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Social Security Administration (SSA). With limited exception, SSI benefits are available only to U.S. residents. Beneficiaries who leave the United States for more than 30 days or more consecutively are not considered to be back in the United States until the individual resides in the United States again for 30 days in a row.
Gracey was required to report certain changes, including whether he moved, within 10 days after the month the change took place. He moved to Mexico by February 2017 and was required to report that change to the SSA by March 2017. However, he never informed SSA of his move. Therefore, he was ineligible for SSI benefits until he reestablished residency in the United States.
Facebook records showed that Gracey admitted to living in Mexico between February 2017 and May 2021 to multiple people. During this timeframe, Gracey also asked several people in the United States to let him report their addresses to SSA as his own to cause the SSA to continue paying him SSI benefits. Due to his improperly reporting false addresses to the SSA, Gracey obtained $37,743 in SSI benefits he was not entitled to receive.
Gracey is scheduled to be sentenced on April 26, 2022.
“Federal benefits provide important financial support to qualified individuals,” said U.S. Attorney Farley. “Those who lie to obtain federal benefits are committing a serious federal crime. By moving to Mexico and creating a web of lies to continue to obtain SSI benefits, this defendant stole federal funds. Thanks to the hard work of the Office of the Inspector General, he is now being held accountable for his criminal conduct.”
“Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based safety net for the most vulnerable among us; Mr. Gracey intentionally concealed his living arrangements for several years to fraudulently receive benefits that he was not entitled to receive,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “My office will continue to hold accountable those who improperly obtain Social Security benefits. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander S. Chen for prosecuting this case.”
This matter was investigated by the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander S. Chen.
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