Mich. man pleads guilty to disability benefits fraud
Grand Rapids – A western Michigan man has agreed to a plea deal for collecting disability benefits despite being capable of working in construction and serving on a governor’s committee.
Michael Alan Fehler Sr. has agreed to plead guilty to conversion of public money, The Grand Rapids Press reported .
Fehler applied for Social Security Administration disability benefits because he had physical impairments that prevented him from working, according to court documents.
Fehler received disability benefits from 2009 to 2017, despite working on the State of Michigan Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission and the Michigan Governor’s Lead Hazard Reduction Committee, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher O’Connor said.
Surveillance video from 2015 also shows Fehler conducting multiple physical activities, such as loading a lumber cart and carrying a bag of golf clubs, prosecutors said.
“Defendant never reported his work or other physical activities to the SSA. Defendant knew that he was required to do so, and that he should have reported his work and physical activities to the SSA to allow the SSA to review and determine his entitlement to disability benefits,” O’Connor said.
Fehler has cooperated with the investigation and will plead guilty to felony information instead of facing indictment by a grand jury, the plea agreement said.
Defense attorney Matthew Borgula declined to comment to the newspaper.
The charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The prosecution and defense have agreed to recommend one year of in-house detention while on probation.
A judge will review the plea agreement and determine restitution. No court date has been set.