A Little Rock man was sentenced to two years in federal prison for collecting over $250,000 in Social Security disability payments when he was not actually disabled.
Levell Baltimore Jr., 45, was sentenced to 24 months in prison by U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr., according to a news release from the office of Jonathan Ross, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
In 2005, Baltimore applied for Social Security benefits and claimed to be disabled, the release said. He filled out a form stating he could not work or leave his house. He cited seasonal allergies, migraines, asthma, physical limitations and fatigue.
The Social Security Administration initially denied his claim, but in further attempts to convince the agency, he reported that he had not performed any substantial gainful activity in recent years. The administration eventually approved Baltimore's claim, and he began receiving benefits in 2007.
Although Baltimore informed the Social Security Administration he had no income, he created and operated at least six businesses during the time he received disability benefits. Two of his businesses obtained contracts with state government entities in Arkansas. Though he was required to report any income to the federal government, he did not; rather, he continued telling the Social Security Administration he was unable to work.
Baltimore received fraudulent benefits from 2007 through June of 2018 totaling $284,862, according to federal prosecutors. Moody sentenced Baltimore to pay that money back in restitution and also sentenced Baltimore to three years of supervised release after his imprisonment.
Baltimore was charged in May 2018 with one count of theft of government funds and three counts of making false statements. In December, he pleaded guilty to theft of government funds in exchange for dismissal of the other counts.
"This defendant stole from a system that is designed to support those who truly need help," Ross said in a statement. "This sentence shows that jail time awaits those whose greed and dishonesty embolden them to commit frauds such as these."
Social Security Administration Inspector General Gail Ennis said in a statement that Baltimore's sentence sends a strong message.
"For over a decade, this individual willfully concealed his ability to work to collect federal benefits," Ennis said. "I thank the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney's Office for their efforts in this case."