A man is charged with theft, identity fraud and tampering with records after alleged stealing more than $100,000 from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office announced the indictment of 69-year-old Raymond O’Dell on Friday.
Authorities said that O’Dell, who is from Washington state, used his dead mother’s information to steal the money from OPERS.
“Our agents discovered that this suspect collected retirement benefits for his deceased mother for more than 20 years,” DeWine said on Friday.
Officials from the retirement system said that they leaned about the woman’s death through a series of audits.
Helen O’Dell, whose husband once worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation, died in 1989. OPERS deposited benefits into a joint account maintained by her son until her death was uncovered in July 2012.
Watchdog 10 has uncovered that Raymond O’Dell owns a company called Taco Grande Northwest which includes Taco Bell franchises. A check of records showed that O’Dell lives in a $600,000 home.
Federal authorities also are conducting a separate investigation into the allegations that O’Dell also took more than $100,000 in Social Security benefits.
"Stealing a relative's identity and defrauding the State of Ohio will be detected and prosecuted," said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien. "The BCI investigation reflects that this was deliberate fraud because a change of address card was mailed to OPERS more than 16 years after Helen O'Dell had passed away."
An attorney for the retirement system said a case like this should not happen again. Her office has tightened controls after she found the payments supposedly going to a woman who would now be 102-years-old.
“Before this case, we would do random auditing for individuals who were over a 100- years-old. And now we think we should do auditing of individuals who are over 90,” said Julie Emch Becker.
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