By Marc Kovac
A Washington state man has been arrested for accepting pension payments on behalf of his deceased mother for more than 20 years.
Raymond O’Dell, 69, of suburban Seattle, faces three felony charges in the purported theft of more than $100,000 from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
The charges carry potential prison sentences of more than seven years.
The indictment was announced Friday by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine at a press conference near the Statehouse.
“If you are stealing from PERS or any of the other state pension boards, you will be found, you will be prosecuted,” O’Brien said.
DeWine later added, “We hope that thieves, whether they’re family members or strangers to the victim, understand this one thing: We are after you; you’re going to get caught eventually, and in this particular case, it’s not really a good idea to defraud the Ohio government-pension fund.”
O’Dell’s father was an Ohio Department of Transportation employee who died, leaving pension benefits for his wife. The former Toledo-area woman died in 1989, but O’Dell continued to receive pension payments; he also submitted a change of address form to the state in 2006, according to documents.
OPERS detected the purported fraud after a routine check on the woman’s records prompted by her age.
Julie Emch Becker, OPERS general counsel, said it’s the first fraud incident of its kind for the pension fund. And she said OPERS will begin conducting additional status checks on individuals 90 years old or older.