A 37-year-old Summerfield man is facing federal charges for allegedly collecting his dead mother’s Social Security benefits for almost six years after her death in 2013.
James Heide was one of 10 people indicted by U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, who serves in the Middle District of Florida. The charges came out of an investigation called Operation Dead Ringer, which showed the 10 who were arrested allegedly stole more than $500,000 in Social Security benefits on behalf of beneficiaries who were deceased.
Heide has been charged with theft of government funds and is accused of fraudulently collecting about $84,900 of his mother’s benefits after her death in October 2013 through this past July. Of the 10 people charged, Heide is accused of taking the most money, a release shows.
“Theft of government program dollars will not be tolerated,” Lopez said. “Those who steal Social Security benefits threaten the integrity of the program and divert vital resources away from those who have earned them and need them most.”
Gail S. Ennis, who serves as inspector general for the Social Security Administration, agreed.
“We will continue to work closely with the Social Security Administration and other agencies to identify beneficiary deaths and pursue those who misuse those payments after someone dies,” she said. “I want to thank the United States Attorney’s Office for its support of our investigations and its efforts to bring these individuals to justice and recover funds for Social Security.”
All 10 cases are being investigated by the Social Security Administration–Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from other federal and local law enforcement agencies. Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler is coordinating the operation and along with Assistant United States Attorney Michael Felicetta will be prosecuting the cases.