A Taco Bell franchise owner reportedly hid his mother’s death for over two decades in order to continue receiving her benefits from Social Security.
Bellevue, Washington resident Raymond C. O’Dell continued to receive checks that belonged to his deceased mother long after she passed away. Although the woman died back in 1989, the man continued to receive money from the United States government.
According to reports, the Taco Bell franchise owner scored approximately $200,000 in benefits over the span of 23 years. O’Dell told authorities that he continued to receive and cash his mom’s checks because he was in a world of financial hurt at the time. However, he later earned a whopping $4 million after a successful venture into the world of fast food.
Since he continued to receive the checks while making tons of money from his Taco Bell restaurants, the man’s attorney said there was really no way for him to alert authorities to the situation without shining a very bright spotlight on his fraudulent behavior.
His attorney explained:
“While none of this is offered to excuse or attempt to justify [the defendant’s crime, it simply describes a desperate, but good man, who saw an opportunity to provide for his family’s health in 1989, when he was at his lowest point, and took it. Like making a deal with the devil, however, once that decision was made there was no way out.”
Authorities said that the Taco Bell franchisee also stole $100,000 worth of benefits from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. While O’Dell has yet to address those charges as of this writing, he’s expected to enter a plea of guilty later this month.
For fraudulently cashing $200,000 worth of Social Security benefits, O’Dell is facing up to six months in jail. It’s unclear how much time he’ll do for his scheme involving the Ohio retirement system. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Wilkinson was particularly irritated that the benefits ended up in the hands of a wealthy man.
“Social Security fraud cases often involve genuinely impoverished persons who steal to improve an otherwise desperate existence. While those circumstances do not excuse theft from social programs, they mitigate the crime. Here, however, [O’Dell] has had a lucrative business career as the owner of fast food restaurants and real estate.”
After serving six months in a federal detention center for cashing his deceased mother’s Social Security checks, the 70-year-old Taco Bell franchisee owner will spend an additional six months under house arrest. In addition to paying back the money he stole, O’Dell is likely to become ineligible for benefits due to the fraud charges.
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