Stimulus money sent to 4,000 cons


Stimulus money sent to 4,000 cons

One day after the Herald reported some surprised Bay State inmates - including murderers and rapists - were cashing in $250 stimulus checks, federal officials revealed the same behind-bars bonus was mailed to nearly 4,000 cons nationwide.

A federal watchdog is now probing how the cons were cut the checks. The same cash also may have been sent to fugitive felons, people kicked out of the country and even individuals now deceased.

It’s all part of the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - and what is becoming an accounting nightmare for red-faced feds.

“President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill has done more to help convicted criminals than it has to actually boost our economy and create jobs,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Sara Sendek.

The Inspector General of Social Security is now tracing the checks that were mailed to 3,900 prisoners at a cost of nearly $1 million after yesterday’s report in the Herald.

Social Security Administration spokesman Stephen Richardson said yesterday none of the prisoner recipients receive monthly Social Security benefits, meaning they should not qualify for a stimulus check. Such benefits are generally cut off to the incarcerated.

The IG also is investigating whether any improper payments were made to dead beneficiaries, felons on the run from the law, individuals living overseas and recipients no longer legally authorized to live in the United States, said IG spokesman George Penn.

Among the 23 inmate recipients in Massachusetts mentioned in yesterday’s Herald are a prisoner convicted of first-degree murder, three prisoners jailed for second-degree murder and five convicted rapists, according to the state Department of Correction.

Richardson said five Bay State prisoners received the payments legitimately because they were legally on Social Security in a three-month period before they went to jail.

The remaining checks were sent to individuals who were not properly identified as prisoners in Social Security records or to people where inaccurate Social Security numbers have since been found.

Only five Massachusetts prisoners have enough cash left to pay the government back, the DOC said.

Nationally, about 2,200 inmates who were mailed checks are entitled to the payments because they were not in prison and lawfully collecting Social Security at some point between November 2008 and January, Richardson said.

The federal goverment is examining whether the payment was due to the remaining 1,700 inmates because they were not identified as prisoners in the Social Security system, Richardson said.

The U.S. Treasury Department began mailing the $250 checks to 54.4 million Social Security beneficiaries, veterans and federal railroad retirees in May as part of a $13 billion spending plan.

Source: Stimulus Checks Mistakenly Sent to 1,700 Inmates, Federal Agency Says - Political News -