The former post office employee pleaded guilty after he was accused of fraudulently receiving disability benefits, saying he had a severe back injury, prosecutors said.
According to federal officials, the Oklahoma resident was caught on “great physical activity,” such as weightlifting and cycling on vacation, despite my alleged injuries and income difficulties.
George Atley, 56, faces up to 10 years in prison and is required to return $ 732,459.46 in stolen funds, according to a February 16 press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central Florida.
Atley’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Utley pleaded guilty to one article on obtaining stolen state property, which, according to prosecutors, began in 2009 and lasted until March 2019.
Utley, who previously worked as a mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service, began receiving disability benefits from the government after reporting a “work injury to his back” in January 2009, prosecutors said.
He received between $ 2,600 a month and $ 3,300 a month from these payments, but Utley was not true about other sources of income or injury, the federation said.
During the hearing on disability benefits Utley directly said that he was not involved in a car accident and that he injured his back only at work, standing in the rest room, according to court documents.
However, prosecutors said the investigation revealed that he had suffered nine car accidents, including several that were before he suffered a back injury in the rest room. After several car accidents Utley filed civil lawsuits against several different insurance companies. Documents show that as a result of one accident in 1989, Atley injured his back.
In addition, the investigation found that since 2011, Atley has spent only $ 14 on prescription drugs, which was in 2012.
“This general shortage of prescription painkillers is incompatible with the painful state of disability that Utley has repeatedly claimed,” prosecutors said in court documents.
Utley had to report any other source of income he received, and any improvement in his physical condition, court documents showed. However, he has not reported earning money or noticed an improvement in his back condition since he started receiving disability benefits.
Bank records show that although he did not report other sources of income, Atley contributed to the garbage collection company, which he appears to have owned. Investigators also found that Utley owned property in Pennsylvania, where he was a landlord and received payments from the Philadelphia Housing Authority after he began receiving disability benefits, according to court documents.
Facebook posts also show that Atley is involved in various activities that prosecutors say contradict his allegations of “debilitating work-related back injuries.” These posts include photos of him training, standing next to a mountain bike, fishing and relaxing in the Grand Canyon. They were all published by Utley, court documents say.
Video surveillance also showed that Utley worked for hours in his backyard, with a former postal worker lifting, carrying and squatting, prosecutors said. In addition, the footage shows Utley pulling a race car and crawling under it.
The doctor examined Utley in 2018 and felt he was ready to return to work, prosecutors said. But instead he enrolled in vocational rehabilitation training and told the specialist that he would “never return to work.”
Prosecutors said a search of his emails revealed that Utley had “large sources of income” in addition to the money he received monthly from the government.
The United States government has lost more than $ 732,000 to Atley’s actions this decade, officials said.
“If he had complied with the mandatory reporting requirements, Utley would not have received these … benefits,” the court documents said.