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Turlock man pleads guilty to disability benefits fraud
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United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that James Alva Kirkpatrick, 59, of Turlock, pleaded guilty today to theft of Social Security disability insurance benefits.

According to the plea agreement, Kirkpatrick began receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in 1992 for a back injury. As a recipient of disability insurance benefits, Kirkpatrick was required to report any change in his employment status. According to the indictment, beginning in 2000, Kirkpatrick had been working approximately 40 hours per week for North Valley Appraisal, a company owned by the defendant and his wife. Kirkpatrick did not report his employment and continued to receive disability benefits, based on his false representations that he was unable to work because of his disability. As a result, he received more than $185,000 that he was not entitled to between 2000 and 2007.

 Sentencing and a restitution hearing is scheduled for January 23, 2012 before United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. Kirkpatrick faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

 The case is the product of an investigation by the United States Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Michele Thielhorn is prosecuting the case.