A 68-year-old Shepherd man will go to federal prison for illegally collecting more than $124,000 in Social Security benefits.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Thursday sentenced Harold Richard Hofmann to one year and a day in prison and ordered him to pay $124,309 restitution. The sentence follows the prosecution’s recommendation and allows Hofmann to shorten his sentence by accruing good time.
The judge rejected a defense request for house arrest or community confinement and ordered Hofmann into custody until he is sent to a prison.
Hofmann pleaded guilty in December to one count of Social Security fraud. The judge dismissed a second count of theft of government property.
Hofmann made arrangements to get paid cash from employers, Cebull noted. And when Hofmann visited the Social Security Administration, he “suddenly became feeble. Even to
the point of not being able
to carry his paper-
work,” he said.
Defense attorney Roy W. Johnson said Hofmann had no criminal record and could work to pay restitution if not imprisoned.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr said that from August 2002 to January 2008, Hofmann worked as a contract mail driver and was paid cash “under the table’’ to hide his income and to avoid losing his Social Security benefits.
Hofmann told investigators he had worked full-time and received cash payments for years while collecting disability benefits. He admitted that he got greedy, Fehr said.
Hofmann delivered mail for companies that contracted with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail on rural routes.
He began receiving disability payments in 1986 after a back injury prevented him from working. The SSA reviewed Hofmann’s claims several times, and in 1989 reported that he was unable to return to work.
Hofmann collected $77,198 in benefits from 2002 until 2008, while his daughter received $39,446 in an auxiliary claim.