Social Security worker sentenced in extortion scheme

A former Social Security Administration employee, who charged a fee to elderly and disabled people seeking income assistance to speed their claims, was sent to prison Monday.

Cordell Fleming, a former claims representative in Morrow, was sentenced to one day and one year in prison, after pleading guilty to extortion in August. The sentence also requires three years of supervised release, 120 hours of community service and full restitution of the illegally obtained funds.

It is not clear exactly how much money Fleming got, but an investigation found that from October 2012 to April 2013, he extorted and attempted to extort money from at least nine Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients or their representatives. The amounts ranged from $500 to $1,800.

“Mr. Fleming abused his position of public trust with the Social Security Administration when he extorted money from the disabled, aged, and indigent, in return for expediting their claims” United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a news release. “The defendant earned every day of this prison sentence.”

According to the news release, Fleming’s duties in the Morrow office included processing payment requests for those receiving SSI, the federal income supplement program designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income.

The extortion occurred when Fleming offered to speed up the processing time of SSI payments, for a fee, according to the release. There were also occasions when he fabricated documents to justify the expedited SSI payments.

“While employee fraud is rare in SSA’s dedicated work force, the Office of the Inspector General has no higher priority than the investigation and prosecution of the rare individual who violates the public trust,” said Special Agent Thomas Caul, of the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General. “I’m pleased to see this case brought to a successful conclusion and grateful that the U.S. Attorney’s Office shares our determination to ensure the integrity of SSA’s programs.”

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