PSA: If Your Mom Died Three Years Ago, It Is Illegal To Keep Cashing Her State Retirement Checks

Sam Olens doesn’t look too kindly on such things.  From a press release:

Yesterday, a Gwinnett County Grand indicted Levon Chett Barrett on one count of Violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) (O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(a)). He is accused of stealing retirement payments from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Georgia (TRS).

Barrett is the son of a retired Atlanta school teacher who began receiving retirement benefits in May 1997. The benefits were electronically transferred into Ms. Barrett’s checking account. Unbeknownst to TRS, Ms. Barrett died in September 2007. TRS continued paying retirement benefits until it discovered Ms. Barrett’s death in February 2010 via a call from the Atlanta Public Schools’ Human Resources Office.

An investigation revealed that the defendant stole the funds from his deceased mother’s account through use of a PIN-based financial transaction card, either by withdrawing funds directly from ATMs or by using the card to conduct in-person, telephonic, or on-line credit/debit financial transactions. When interviewed the by Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in July 2012, the defendant admitted to withdrawing and using funds from his mother’s account after her death.

Between October 2007 and February 2010, the defendant stole $85,712.52 in TRS funds from his mother’s bank account.

RICO carries a minimum of five and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine up to three times the amount of money stolen.

Assistant Attorney General Shepard Orlow is prosecuting the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Special Agent Rocky Bigham of the GBI.

Members of the public should keep in mind that indictments contain only allegations against the individual(s) against whom the indictment is sought. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it will be the government’s burden at trial to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the allegations contained in the indictment.


  1. notsplost says:

    More evidence that we’re becoming like Europe and Japan. There have been several cases in France of relatives keeping dead bodies of their loved ones stuffed in closets for months in order to keep pocketing their pensions or government bennies. One wonders how they overcome the stench (hey I’ve got a new idea for a small business … free lance embalming services!)

    Big government may be inefficient in most things, but when in comes to ending benefits due to the recipients death, they exhibit the kind of agility and quickness that would make LeBron James jealous.

    Expect to see more and more of this type of thing as folks realize that this economy ain’t ever coming back to way it was in the roaring 90’s.

    • Daddy Got A Gun says:

      It might be a while.

      Olens will prove he’s just another go-along-get-along Republican with his eyes on the Governorship. He’ll claim all sorts of legal and jurisdictional reasons not to pursue Balfour.

  2. Blake says:

    This interests me just from the technical legal angle. Why RICO? It seems to be simple fraud committed by an individual, not an organization, “racketeer influenced”/corrupt or not.

  3. gcp says:

    I have to wonder how many family members are also fraudulently collecting social security and disability after the rightful recipient dies.

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