An Arizona man was ordered to repay the state of Ohio more than $100,000 he stole by using the identity of his deceased mother over a period of about 23 years.
Raymond O'Dell, 70, pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of Theft, Identity Fraud, and Tampering with Records after an investigation by the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) found that he stole the funds from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) from 1989 to 2012.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Cain then sentenced the Scottsdale, Ariz., man to pay $102,488 in restitution. Cain also sentenced O'Dell to concurrently serve one year in prison for the charge of Theft, two years in prison for the charge of Identity Fraud, and one year in prison for the charge of Tampering with Records.
BCI agents found that O'Dell spent the OPERS funds, which were regularly deposited into a joint account for his mother, Helen, for more than two decades after her death in 1989. Helen O'Dell once lived in Maumee, Ohio, and was entitled to the benefits earned by her husband, who had worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation prior to his death.
"This defendant made no effort to notify the state that his mother had died because he knew the payments would stop if he did," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "Those who try to defraud the state in this manner will be caught and will be prosecuted."
"This is another great example how Attorney General DeWine assists local prosecutors to bring offenders to justice while recovering 100% of the stolen funds for Ohio retirees," Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said.
“Our aggressive pursuit of this unusual case should warn anyone contemplating the misuse of pension funds that OPERS will take decisive action for restitution,” said Julie Emch Becker, OPERS' general counsel. “While cases like this are rare, we appreciate the swiftness with which the county prosecutor and the attorney general worked to help OPERS ensure the security of its members’ retirement dollars.”
O'Dell immediately paid the full amount of his restitution, which will be returned to OPERS.
In a separate, but related, case, a United States District Court Western District of Washington judge sentenced O'Dell in January to six months in a federal prison followed by six months of home detention for the theft of $188,436 from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The federal judge also ordered that O'Dell repay the stolen SSA funds that had been deposited into the joint account for his mother.
O'Dell lived in the state of Washington during the time the OPERS and SSA thefts were committed.
O'Dell was ordered to serve his Ohio sentence concurrent to the federal prison sentence, meaning he will be required to serve one year in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction once his federal term of incarceration is complete.