OCALA, FL – George Utley, a 56-year old Army veteran, received $732,000 worth of disability benefits while working for the USPS. The payments began after Utley reported a job-related injury, where he said he sprained his back as he stood up in the break room. He was a mail handler at a Pennsylvania-based USPS facility at the time. Because of the level of pay provided to him and noticing minor contradictions, the Office of the Inspector General and Homeland Security Investigations put more effort into researching the claim. Now, Utley is in jail and set to pay the $732K back. Here’s where it all went wrong:
After the 2009 incident, Utley falsely testified to having no previous back injuries and or ever being in a automobile accident. Actually, he had been in 9 accidents prior to 2009. For those accidents, he filed several lawsuits claiming he sustained neck and back injuries. By the end of those lawsuits, he had received over $100,000 worth of settlement money from insurance companies. Utley is required to disclose the information as that can affect how much and if he can gain disability benefits.
Based on Utley’s admission, it was reported that he experienced painful disabling medical conditions. He only spent $14 in pain medication for his back, and that was all the way back in 2012. Since that time, he has filled no prescription medications for the related injury. Typically a life-altering accident that results in monthly disability benefits, should be accompanied with regular prescription medication and treatment.
Lastly, when an individual goes through a severe back injury, their life is inconvenienced with the inability to do major tasks. Utley was no exception; he took a hiatus after the accident, not being cleared to return to USPS till 2017. But once he was cleared to work, he refused and decided he did not want to return to work ever again. So what exactly was he doing since he wasn’t working anymore?
It is not clear what he was doing 2009 through 2014, but he became active on social media in 2015. Like many on social media, he overshared and let everyone see what he was up to. As shown on his social media, he was weightlifting, biking, fishing, and traveling across the country. Also, once the investigation began, they found that Utley was easily able to maintain his yard and lift heavy items. And although he was collecting disability payments for his injury at USPS, he maintained multiple businesses that gave him other areas of revenue.
Prosecutors said “had Utley complied with his reporting requirements, he would not have received the disability benefit payments at issue in this case.”
Coyer, C. (2022, May 24). Feds: Man Faked Injury for Disability Money, Heads to Prison. Miami Herald. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article261738562.html
The United States Department of Justice. (2022, May 23). Former Postal Worker Sentenced for Defrauding Department of Labor of $732,000 in Disability Payments. Justice.gov. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/former-postal-worker-sentenced-defrauding-department-labor-732000-disability-payments
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