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Ex-federal worker sentenced for extortion

ATLANTA — A former claims representative who worked in the Morrow Social Security Administration office has been sentenced to federal prison for extortion.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Cordell Fleming, 47, of Conyers, pleaded guilty to the charge in August and was sentenced this week to one year and one day.

“Mr. Fleming abused his position of public trust with the Social Security Administration when he extorted money from the disabled, aged and indigent, in return for expediting their claims,” said Yates. “The defendant earned every day of this prison sentence.”

Thomas Caul, special agent in charge in Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, said such fraud is unusual.

“While employee fraud is rare in SSA’s dedicated work force, the Office of the Inspector General has no higher priority than the investigation and prosecution of the rare individual who violates the public trust,” said Caul. “I’m pleased to see this case brought to a successful conclusion and grateful that the U.S. Attorney’s Office shares our determination to ensure the integrity of SSA’s programs.”

Yates said Fleming worked as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration in Morrow.

“As part of his duties, Fleming processed requests for Supplemental Security Income payments for eligible individuals,” she said.

SSI is a federal income supplement program designed to help aged, blind and disabled people, who have little or no income, by providing cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.

“As part of his scheme, Fleming offered to ‘expedite’ the processing time of SSI payments to recipients in exchange for a fee,” said Yates. “In an attempt to make the expedited SSI payments appear legitimate, Fleming frequently created false documents that purportedly justified the expedited disbursement of the payments.”

From October 2012 to April 2013, Fleming extorted and attempted to extort money — in amounts ranging from about $500 to $1,800 — from at least nine SSI recipients or their representatives, she said.

When Fleming is released from prison, he will serve three years of supervised release and full restitution. He was also ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.