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“John Doe” Sentenced to 57 Months for Misusing a Social Security Number and Aggravated Identity Theft

Dec 2, 2022

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York:

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – “John Doe,” of Owego, New York, was sentenced today to 57 months in prison for aggravated identity theft and misuse of a social security number. Doe used the name, social security number and date of birth of a homeless U.S. Army veteran to fraudulently obtain $249,811.93 in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and an additional $588,645.85 in state benefits. Doe’s true identity has yet to be confirmed.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Gail. S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA).

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman stated: “We don’t yet know the defendant’s name, but we know what he did. Today’s sentence justly punishes him for stealing the identity of a homeless veteran to fraudulently obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in government benefits. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal investigators, we were able to bring John Doe to justice in spite of not knowing his true identity.”

SSA Inspector General Gail S. Ennis stated: “This individual stole the identity of a U.S. Army veteran to fraudulently obtain Supplemental Security Income benefits, a critical safety net for those in need. This sentence holds him accountable for his unlawful actions. My office will continue to pursue those who steal another person’s identity and misuse a social security number for personal gain. I appreciate the work of our law enforcement partners in this complex investigation and I thank Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adrian S. LaRochelle and Michael Gadarian for prosecuting this case.”

Doe was found guilty following a 4-day trial in May 2022. The evidence established that from approximately 1999 until June 2021, Doe received SSI benefits under the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of a homeless U.S. Army veteran living in North Carolina. When Doe’s use of the veteran’s identity was ultimately discovered and Doe was questioned by federal agents, Doe continued to falsely claim the identity as his own and provided agents with a photocopy of the victim’s birth certificate and Social Security card, claiming these documents were his own. Agents located the veteran and established through fingerprint and DNA analysis that Doe is not the person he claims to be.

United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also ordered Doe to serve a 3-year term of supervised release following his release from prison and ordered Doe to pay a total $838,457.78 in restitution in connection with the benefits he unlawfully received under the victim’s name.

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, the Tioga County Sheriff’s Office, the Tioga County Department of Social Services, and the New York State Police, with assistance provided by the U.S. Marshals Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adrian S. LaRochelle and Michael D. Gadarian.

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