Conyers father sentenced for stealing son's Social Security benefits

ATLANTA -- A Conyers man who stole his son's Social Security benefits has been sentenced to 15 months in confinement.

Ernest Edgar Black, 57, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge by United States District Judge William S. Duffey Jr. to a combination of prison, halfway house placement, and home confinement totaling 15 months.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Black stole approximately $26,000 in Social Security benefits that were intended for his teenage son. Black had been approved for Social Security benefits for himself in September 2007. He subsequently applied for auxiliary benefits for his son, claiming that he was the custodial parent and provided for his son's care and support. Black received more than $26,000 in Social Security benefits designated for his son between November 2007 and November 2008. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Black used all the money for his own personal use.

"Black lied to the Social Security Administration so he could get the benefits that were supposed to be used for the care and support of his teenage son; instead, he used the money for himself. This selfish act robbed his son of much needed financial assistance," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

Black was convicted of mail fraud and Social Security fraud on Feb. 28 after a two-day trial. He was sentenced to three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, during which he must serve six months community confinement in a halfway house and an additional six months of home confinement. Black was also ordered to pay $26,815 in restitution.

"The Social Security Administration, in partnership with the Department of Justice, began a fraud prosecution project more than a decade ago, which focuses on federal benefits fraud," said Guy P. Fallen, special agent in charge, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. "The prosecution project has been a tremendous success and has returned countless dollars to Social Security trust funds. The Office of the Inspector General will continue to investigate all allegations of fraud and abuse and assist the United States Attorney's Office in bringing violators to justice."

The United States Attorney's Office and the Social Security Administration investigate and prosecute fraud against the Social Security Administration and rightful beneficiaries of Social Security benefits on an ongoing basis. Seven defendants have been sentenced since January 2011, four of whom received prison sentences. All defendants were required to repay the full amount of stolen benefits. The court ordered restitution for these cases exceeded $760,000.