December 18, 2012

Augusta man indicted on federal Social Security fraud charge

Benjamin F. Peaslee Sr., 61, is also accused of misrepresenting income to get MaineCare and SNAP benefits

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

A 61-year-Augusta man faces federal charges of Social Security fraud and making false statements to gain MaineCare and food assistance.

Benjamin F. Peaslee Sr. is scheduled for arraignment 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, in U.S. District Court in Bangor. He was indicted last week by a grand jury in that court.

Peaslee is accused of knowingly failing to disclose his total household income between Jan. 1, 2008, and Oct. 29, 2010, in order to get Supplemental Security Income benefits. He also is accused of misrepresenting his income on Oct. 28, 2008, and Oct. 20, 2009, on documents filed with the Maine Department of Health & Human Services, which administers MaineCare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Peaslee was granted a divorce from his wife in May 2008, but there is no indication that minor children were involved, according to records in Augusta District Court.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it indicates that there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

Each of the two counts carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison or $250,000 in fines or both.

According to federal court records, the case was investigated by an agent with the Social Security Administration. The amount of money Peaslee is alleged to have fraudulently received is not specified in the documents.

The file indicates both the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture are owed restitution.

Hunter Tzovarras, the attorney representing Peaslee, was in court Tuesday and not able to comment, and a call to Peaslee's phone number went unanswered.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631
badams@centralmaine.com

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