Former Harlingen social security employee pleads guilty to stealing government money

2 months 6 days 13 hours ago Tuesday, October 03 2023 Oct 3, 2023 October 03, 2023 10:11 PM October 03, 2023 in News - Local

A Harlingen resident and former claims specialist for the Social Security Administration admitted to creating fake profiles to steal “at least” $75,000 in social security payments, according to a news release.

Lee Marvin Nichols was arrested in August and accused of creating profiles for two children that did not exist to receive their benefits.

Nichols pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of government property in connection with the investigation, according to a Tuesday news release from the US Attorney’s Office.

The indictment claimed Nichols linked the profiles of the fictitious children to a recently deceased man and a disabled woman living in Mexico in an attempt to create two survivor benefits applications.

According to the indictment, Nichols received “at least” $75,000 in payments since September 2020 on behalf of the fictitious children.

Nichols also collected IRS-issued economic stimulus payments of $1,400 to each fictitious child, the indictment stated.

Nichols used debit cards issued to the children to withdraw funds, according to the charges. 

“Defendant took various measures to attempt to conceal his identity while withdrawing funds…including using hats drawn low over his face, sunglasses, balaclavas, and other clothing to conceal his appearance,” the indictment stated.

As part of a plea deal, Nichols agreed to pay $82,516 in restitution to the SSA and $2,800 in restitution to the IRS.

Sentencing for Nichols is set for Dec. 27. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison, the news release stated.

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