BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Harlingen man pleaded guilty to government theft after allegedly creating fake profiles of two children that did not exist, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Lee Marvin Nichols, 38, is a former claims specialist with the Social Security Administration in Harlingen. He allegedly linked the profiles to a deceased man and a disabled woman, who was living in Mexico, in order to create a survivor benefits application.
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Nichols sent the children’s benefit debit cards to the address of an acquaintance. He would make regular withdrawals at ATMs with those debit cards.
During the withdrawals he attempted to disguise himself by using hats pulled down over his face, sunglasses, balaclavas and other clothing, the release stated.
Additionally, the IRS issued stimulus payments of $1,400 to each false child.
“As part of his plea, Nichols took responsibility for over $75,000 in loss to the federal government,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani said. “He also agreed to pay $82,516 in restitution to the SSA and $2,800 in restitution to the IRS.”
U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera will sentence Nichols on Dec. 27. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 maximum fine.