Man charged in Idaho for collecting dead relative’s social security benefits
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BURLEY — An Oregon man has pleaded guilty to collecting an Idaho family member’s social security benefits for years after he died.
James Alvarado pleaded guilty to felony theft of government funds after Acting U.S. Attorney Rafale Gonzalez filed charges this month. Charging documents indicate between 2016 and 2020, Alvarado collected social security benefits for someone who died on Dec. 25, 2015, who is listed by the initials J.A.
An obituary shows Alvarado’s family member Jose Jaime Alvarado died that day at the age of 77.
Court records show the Social Security Administration had been paying J.A.’s benefits through a Zion’s Bank account, but they did not know he had died in 2015. Benefits were continuing to be paid until Spring 2020 when the Social Security Administration discovered Alvarado had power of attorney on the account.
Alvarado had withdrawn almost all of the money, totaling $54,072, and used it for personal expenses.
Investigators spoke with Alvarado in January. Alvarado said he knew the Social Security Administration kept depositing money and knew the money did not belong to him. Alvarado said he knew he needed to pay the money back but never did, according to court records.
With Alvarado pleading guilty to the charge on Oct. 6, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximin fine of up to $250,000.
“The Defendant agrees to pay and be ordered to pay restitution in the sum of $54,072 to the United States Social Security Administration,” the plea agreement reads.
Sentencing for Alvarado is not yet scheduled.