Mercedes Owner Busted For SSI, Medicaid Fraud
An unemployed Portland, Ore. man who reportedly wore lots of jewelry, flashed pictures of trips to Lebanon and owned a Mercedes was sentenced to six months of prison this week for cashing disability checks for a sister who was living outside the United States.
Jason I. Boutros, 49, must also pay nearly $221,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and the Oregon Department of Human Services, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon ordered.
Boutros was one of four family members who, prosecutors said, bilked federal and state agencies of disability, Medicaid and food-stamp benefits over several years, collecting payments even as some lived in Lebanon for long stretches, making them ineligible.
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Investigators began looking into Boutros’ payments in 2009 when he submitted a request to DHS seeking payment for providing home-care services for his mother in March of that year, court filings say. But the state learned his mother had been out of the country in March 2009.
The discovery led to further investigation by several state and federal agencies over the next four years into Supplemental Security Income and other benefits the Boutros family members sought.
“It started out as a $912.52 home-care provider (investigation) and turned into a $220,000 Medicaid and SSI fraud case,” said Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Cooper.
The lifestyle of the Boutros family had raised questions by employees at the pharmacy where the family would pick up prescriptions, a sentencing memorandum states. One said Boutros wore “lots of jewelry” and showed photos of trips to Lebanon and another said she had reported him to a fraud hotline.
And when agents searched Boutros’ Southeast Portland home in April 2013, they found a Mercedes in the garage and a tanning bed in another building on the property, according to Cooper’s sentencing memorandum.
Photos indicate the Mercedes was a silver SL500 roadster.
Boutros pleaded guilty last December to Social Security Fraud. He said he collected more than $8,000 in benefits intended for his sister, Viviane, who has a disability, even though she was ineligible due to her living outside the country from February 2009 until February 2010, according to the court filings.
In addition to collecting the payments for Viviane, Boutros also withdrew Supplemental Security Income payments made to his parents, Zakia and Iskander Boutros, who were also spending significant periods of time outside the United States, according to court filings. His parents have been charged with Social Security Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, but have fled the country, Cooper wrote.
Boutros’ sister, Killda, was also charged in the scheme and has pleaded guilty to Social Security Fraud. She is to be sentenced on April 17.
Boutros is to report to prison on May 19.