– A federal jury has convicted a 70-year-old Houston man of fraudulently taking
government money for more than 20 years, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K.
jury deliberated for less than an hour before convicting Fred Samson following
a two-day trial.
parents passed away in Poland in 1995. However, the Social Security
Administration (SSA) was unaware of this and believed they still resided in
Houston. As such, SSA continued to pay their monthly retirement benefits.
government provided evidence and testimony demonstrating Samson wrongly
collected these benefits that were intended for his deceased parents.
jury saw copies of U.S. Treasury checks with endorsements containing Samson’s
signature. Bank records also revealed Samson opened a joint bank account
in his and his mother’s name more than a decade after she had passed away and
directed her monthly benefits into that account. Witness testimony detailed
withdrawals made from accounts held in both his parents’ names. Samson was the
only person who had made those withdrawals.
2016, SSA attempted to contact Samson’s father at his address of record in
Houston. The jury heard testimony Samson had claimed, falsely, that his parents
moved to Poland two years prior.
jury also heard about several inconsistent statements Samson made over the
course of the investigation. He first claimed he had been sending the money to
Poland, but later said he was using the money because his parents gave him
permission to do so. He also stated he had been using the funds since
2000, but later admitted he had done so since they had passed away.
later acknowledged he wrote a letter to SSA saying his parents were still
alive, admitting he was afraid of getting in trouble and did not have the money
to pay it back.
trial, Samson tried to claim he had been unaware his parents had passed away.
He said he had a falling out with his family and had not spoken with his
parents since they moved back to Poland in the early ‘90s. He also argued there
was a language barrier and may not have understood details he discussed with
jury did not believe Samson’s claims and found him guilty as charged.
estimate Samson illegally claimed more than $90,000 in government funds as a
result of the scheme.
District Judge Sim Lake presided over the trial and set sentencing for
February 2020. At that time, Samson faces up to 10 years in federal
prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine. He may be required to also
pay restitution to SSA. Samson was permitted to remain on bond pending that
conducted the investigation. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin
Sandel and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Day are prosecuting the case.