West Sacramento former Social Security employee sentence for conspiracy to defraud

A former employee of the Sacramento branch of Social Security was sentenced yesterday following their conviction to defraud the United States.

Eric Lemoyne Willis, 46, of West Sacramento, was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States, theft of government property, and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to information presented during trial, Willis and co-defendants, Darron Dimitri Ross, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Joshua Bilal George, 39, of San Diego, conspired to steal public money from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Willis worked as an SSA Operations Supervisor in Sacramento and Lodi from 2015 until his departure in January 2018 and used his authority as an SSA employee to access the confidential Social Security records.

These records contained personally identifiable information (PII). Willis would seek out PII for beneficiaries who used direct deposit for payment of large benefits and gave them Ross.

Ross and George’s roles in these crimes included calling numerous SSA field offices across the country and using the stolen PII to impersonate the beneficiaries. Ross also opened at least 44 online bank accounts under fraudulent identities to receive diverted SSA benefit payment

If Ross succeeded in convincing an SSA representative that he was the beneficiary, he would request that the beneficiary’s direct deposit account be changed to one of the conspirators’ fraudulent accounts. 

The SSA has identified over 200 beneficiaries nationwide who were targeted by these crimes, and it suffered at least $696,912 in fraud losses caused by the defendants’ offenses. The defendants spent the proceeds of their crimes on trips to Las Vegas and luxury items and were ordered to pay full restitution.

“Mr. Willis abused his position with SSA for his personal gain, setting up an elaborate scheme with co-conspirators that defrauded those who needed it the most of over $690,000 in Social Security benefits. This sentence holds him accountable for his egregious criminal actions,” said Dawn Nolan, Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Field Division, of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General.

Ross and George pleaded guilty to similar charges and are scheduled for sentencing in August 2022 and face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and up to five years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States. Ross also faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Each of these offenses also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

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