$100,000 Theft from OPERS
Updated: Friday, March 8 2013, 07:29 PM EST
COLUMBUS -- (Release from Attorney General) Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien and Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) General Counsel Julie Emch Becker today to announce the indictment of a man accused of stealing more than $100,000 from OPERS.
A Franklin County grand jury indicted Raymond O'Dell, from the state of Washington, last week. The 69-year-old is facing felony charges of theft, identity fraud, and tampering with records.
At the request of Prosecutor O'Brien, agents with the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) investigated the allegations.
"Our agents discovered that this suspect collected retirement benefits for his deceased mother for more than 20 years," said Attorney General DeWine. "We believe he deliberately misled OPERS in order to take this money and spend it on himself."
OPERS learned of the woman's death through a series of audits. Helen O'Dell, whose husband once worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation, passed away in 1989. OPERS deposited benefits into a joint account maintained by her son until her death was discovered in July 2012.
"Stealing a relative's identity and defrauding the State of Ohio will be detected and prosecuted," said Prosecutor 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."
"Our aggressive pursuit of this case should serve notice to anyone contemplating the misuse of pension benefit dollars that OPERS will take decisive action for restitution," said Becker. "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 is accused of illegally collecting a total of $102,448. The suspect faces up to seven and a half years in prison if convicted on all three charges.
Federal authorities are conducting a separate investigation into allegations that O'Dell took more than $100,000 in social security benefits as well.
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