CAMDEN, N.J. – A Social Security Administration employee today admitted unlawfully accessing the Social Security accounts of individuals and falsifying their records in order to steal funds for his own use, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Nicholas Pao, 37, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of theft of government funds and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Pao was a 10-year employee of the Social Security Administration who worked as a claims technical expert in the Social Security Administration’s office in Egg Harbor Township. Pao was responsible for determining eligibility and payment amounts, processing difficult cases, assisting in case reviews, and making special payment approvals. From December 2014 to July 2018, Pao used his credentials to access the confidential records of several individuals without their knowledge or authority. He altered their records and made fraudulent changes that caused the Social Security Administration to issue benefits to these individuals. Pao would then intercept these benefits, which were issued by way of a Direct Express account and credit card. Pao depleted the funds issued on the Direct Express accounts without the knowledge or consent of the individuals. Pao stole approximately $100,000 in Social Security funds.
The count of theft of government funds is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft counts are punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of two years that must be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for the violation of theft of government funds. Each of the counts is also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for June 12, 2019.
If anyone in the public believes that they might have been the victim of Nicholas Pao’s Social Security fraud scheme, they are advised to call the Office of the Inspector General at 888-487-9917.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration, under the direction of John F. Grasso with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Meriah Russell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.
Defense counsel: Thomas Young Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Camden
SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on March 4, 2019.