A retired NYPD lieutenant from Long Island City was arrested for stealing social security benefits that were meant for his children for nine years, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Michael Conway, 60, was charged before the U.S. District court in Brooklyn with wire fraud and released on a $200,000 bond. If convicted, Conway faces a statutory maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment and restitution.
“As alleged in the complaint, for nearly a decade, the defendant committed a fraud on his family and SSA by unlawfully collecting and keeping funds that had been provided for the care of his children based on false statements he made to the government,” said United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “This office will remain vigilant in identifying and prosecuting those like the defendant who collect benefits to which they are not entitled.”
According to the complaint, Conway began receiving Retirement, Survivors and Disability Insurance (RSDI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in May 2009 after suffering a workplace injury while working for the NYPD. Court records indicate that eligible family members are also able to RSDI benefits, or auxiliary benefits.
In August 2009, Conway allegedly applied for auxiliary benefits for his twin children, who were 8 years old at the time, by falsely claiming that they resided with him in Queens and that no other relatives provided financial support for the children. Based on the false information provided by Conway, the SSA approved the application and granted Conway’s request to receive and manage the SSA funds to which his children were entitled.
The criminal complaint states that from August 2009 through August 2018, Conway allegedly received between approximately $586.00 and $652.00 per month for his children.
Conway’s fraud was uncovered when his son, who was almost 18, applied for SSA benefits because he is considered legally blind. When he and his mother went to the SSA office to apply, they found that the SSA had been paying benefits to Conway on his children’s behalf since 2009. Conway allegedly received total of $138,016.60 over the years.
The twins’ mother told the SSA that she was awarded custody of the children in December 2002 and they had never lived with Conway.
“This arrest should serve as a warning to those who choose to defraud Social Security’s disability programs,” stated SSA Inspector General Ennis. “We vigorously pursue fraud allegations, and work closely with United States Attorney’s Offices across the country to bring offenders to justice. I encourage the public to report suspect Social Security fraud to our fraud hotline at 800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report.”
Updated at 4 p.m.