Man Who Stole Dead Father’s Social Security Payments Faces 285 Years in Prison

Man Who Stole Dead Father’s Social Security Payments Faces 285 Years in Prison
Social Security cards and $100 bills are shown in an illustration. (Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock)
Beth Brelje

A Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, man who posed as his dead father pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud and Social Security fraud for hiding his father’s death to steal his retirement benefits.

Timothy Gritman, 55, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia for stealing more than $200,000 in Social Security benefits and $117,000 in New York State pension benefits, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero.

Ralph Gritman retired from New York’s Nassau County Clerk’s Office in 1992, and in 2017 he moved to Wyoming to live with his son Timothy Gritman.

Relatives reported that he was last seen alive in 2016 at his home. At that time, he was 79 years old and in poor health.

The father and son shared a joint bank account where the elder Gritman’s retirement benefits were electronically deposited. The pension and Social Security deposits were supposed to stop when he died, but authorities say Timothy Gritman covered up his father’s death to keep getting the money from October 2017 through October 2022.

Investigators found Medicare records showing Ralph Gritman’s health insurance was last used in September 2017 for an emergency visit to a Wyoming hospital. His Medicare was never used again, but he was not reported deceased.

In 2019, Timothy Gritman told a family member that his father had died several years earlier but would not say where he was buried or what had happened to his body.

Using Makeup to Look Older

A call to the New York State Office of the Comptroller fraud tipster line prompted an investigation which caused the pension payments to be suspended, a statement from the office of New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

With suspended payments, Timothy Gritman contacted the comptroller’s office and requested the payments be resumed.

“As part of his fraud, Timothy Gritman lied about his father’s whereabouts and pretended to be his father on multiple occasions,” according to the statement. “When DiNapoli’s office sought to determine whether Ralph Gritman was alive and asked to speak with him, Timothy Gritman would either say he was asleep or would try to imitate his voice. When pushed for photographic evidence of his father holding a current ID card, Timothy Gritman sent investigators a picture of himself, in which he tried to disguise himself as his father, holding a bogus Pennsylvania State identification card.”

Investigators said Gritman posed as his father to get the Pennsylvania State identification card in his father’s name from the Department of Transportation Driver License Center and the next day, Gritman disguised himself to look older, using make up to whiten his hair and eyebrows. Then he held the ID card in a photo as verification that his father was alive.

Gritman faces a maximum possible sentence of 285 years imprisonment, a three-year period of supervised release, a $3.7 million fine, and a $1,500 special assessment.

While law enforcement has determined that Ralph Gritman is now deceased, his remains have not been found.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the New York State Office of the Comptroller, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Curran.

Beth Brelje is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter who covers U.S. politics, state news, and national issues. Ms. Brelje previously worked in radio for 20 years and after moving to print, worked at Pocono Record and Reading Eagle. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]
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