Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Gloucester County man was indicted today for allegedly stealing more than $243,000 by fraudulently collecting Social Security benefits for his father for 29 years after the father died. The father had worked a second job using a false name and a second Social Security number he obtained in that name. When the father died, the son continued to collect benefits paid in connection with that false identity, for which no death was reported.
Nicholas A. Severino Jr., 62, of Paulsboro, was indicted today by a state grand jury on a charge of second-degree theft. The charge is the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Social Security Administration. The investigation determined that, after Severino’s father died in 1984, Severino continued to collect Social Security benefits which the father had been receiving under the name Frank DiCarlo. Severino Jr. collected a total of $243,844 between April 1984, when the father died, and August 2013, when the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped paying benefits. The SSA had attempted to contact DiCarlo by visiting his last known address in Camden under its Centenarian Project, a project in which the SSA routinely contacts beneficiaries who would have reached the age of 100 – or a representative of the beneficiary – to verify they are still living. Benefits were suspended when DiCarlo could not be found.
The monthly benefit payments for DiCarlo were direct-deposited into a joint bank account in the name of DiCarlo and Severino Jr., which had been set up by the father before his death and which had the son’s residence in Paulsboro as the associated mailing address. Further investigation revealed that the elder Severino had assumed the identity of Frank DiCarlo and set up the joint bank account as part of a fraudulent scheme he planned out for decades to provide for his son. The father applied for and received a Social Security number in the name of Frank DiCarlo in 1945. He worked during the day as a welder at the Philadelphia Naval Base under his true name. However, at night, the elder Severino worked a second job under the name Frank DiCarlo at a fencing company in New Jersey, thereby accruing Social Security benefits under that name. Because there was no record of a Frank DiCarlo dying, those benefits continued after Severino Sr.’s death in 1984. It is alleged that Severino Jr. knew of his father’s deception and never informed the SSA that “DiCarlo” had died. Instead, he fraudulently continued to collect the Social Security benefits.
“We charge that Severino’s fraudulent conduct extended for nearly 30 years, during which he stole an average of $700 each and every month,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Selfish schemers like Severino cheat the Social Security program of much-needed funds, which should be going to honest, eligible retirees who worked hard for their benefits.”
“We will continue to prosecute these cases when called upon by the Social Security Administration, which is maintaining vigilance against fraud through programs such as the Centenarian Project,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Ultimately, we all pay for this fraud, and we need to send a strong deterrent message by aggressively prosecuting offenders like Severino.”
“We vigorously pursue incidents of fraud against SSA programs and seek to prosecute those intent on defrauding the U.S. government. We appreciate the efforts of the Office of the Attorney General, Division of Criminal Justice in the successful prosecution of this case,” said Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan of the New York Field Division of the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General.
The case was presented to the state grand jury by Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo. The case was investigated for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Detective Kimberly Allen, Deputy Attorney General Nicodemo and Deputy Attorney General Peter Gallagher.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Edward J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division, for its investigation and referral.
Under New Jersey law, second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Gloucester County, where Severino will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.