|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Gloucester County man was sentenced to prison today for 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., 63, of Paulsboro, was sentenced to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Robert Becker in Gloucester County. He signed a civil consent judgment requiring him to pay $243,844 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. Severino pleaded guilty on Nov. 16 to a charge of second-degree theft of property lost, mislaid or delivered under mistake. He was indicted on Feb. 23, 2015 as 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. Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo prosecuted Severino for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
The joint investigation determined that, after his 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, 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 Paulsboro residence as the associated mailing address. 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. 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.
“Every month for nearly three decades, Severino stole an average of $700 in Social Security benefits – benefits needed to keep the program strong for deserving retirees,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Like his father before him, Severino thought he could cheat the system, but we’re putting such cheats on notice that their selfish criminal conduct will land them in prison.”
“Between the father and the son, this fraud continued for nearly 70 years and ultimately cost the Social Security program nearly a quarter of a million dollars,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “But justice has caught up with Severino, as a result of the SSA’s Centenarian Project and our prosecution.”
“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 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.