Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Gloucester County man was indicted today for allegedly stealing more than $243,000 by fraudulently collecting Social Security benefits for his father for 29 years after the father died.
The father had worked a second job using a false name and a second Social Security number he obtained in that name. When the father died, the son continued to collect benefits paid in connection with that false identity, for which no death was reported.
Nicholas A. Severino Jr., 62, of Paulsboro, was indicted today by a state grand jury on a charge of second-degree theft. The charge is the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Social Security Administration. The investigation determined that, after Severino’s father died in 1984, Severino continued to collect Social Security benefits which the father had been receiving under the name Frank DiCarlo. Severino Jr. collected a total of $243,844 between April 1984, when the father died, and August 2013, when the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped paying benefits. The SSA had attempted to contact DiCarlo by visiting his last known address in Camden under its Centenarian Project, a project in which the SSA routinely contacts beneficiaries who would have reached the age of 100 – or a representative of the beneficiary – to verify they are still living. Benefits were suspended when DiCarlo could not be found.
The monthly benefit payments for DiCarlo were direct-deposited into a joint bank account in the name of DiCarlo and Severino Jr., which had been set up by the father before his death and which had the son’s residence in Paulsboro as the associated mailing address. Further investigation revealed that the elder Severino had assumed the identity of Frank DiCarlo and set up the joint bank account as part of a fraudulent scheme he planned out for decades to provide for his son. The father applied for and received a Social Security number in the name of Frank DiCarlo in 1945. He worked during the day as a welder at the Philadelphia Naval Base under his true name. However, at night, the elder Severino worked a second job under the name Frank DiCarlo at a fencing company in New Jersey, thereby accruing Social Security benefits under that name. Because there was no record of a Frank DiCarlo dying, those benefits continued after Severino Sr.’s death in 1984. It is alleged that Severino Jr. knew of his father’s deception and never informed the SSA that “DiCarlo” had died. Instead, he fraudulently continued to collect the Social Security benefits.
Under New Jersey law, second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.