Watchdog: Follow the Money

Honolulu man accused of taking dead mom's checks

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Associated Press,Watchdog,Hawaii,Waste and Fraud,Follow the Money

HONOLULU — A Honolulu man is accused of defrauding the state out of more than $200,000 by collecting disability payments for his mother even though she died in 2000.

A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges Steven Splater, 58, filed documents with the state Department of Labor in 2003 saying he had power of attorney for his mother, Edith Splater, who he claimed was still alive.

According to the court documents, he continued to receive his mother's disability payments, which he deposited into an account with her name that he accessed. He allegedly continued to receive payments until 2011, for a total of $223,925.

"Throughout the period alleged in this indictment, the defendant used the money he had received by failing to report his mother's death for his own benefit," the indictment said.

FBI spokesman Tom Simon said Splater was arrested Wednesday morning in the parking lot of his Salt Lake apartment building. He pleaded not guilty at an afternoon court hearing and was ordered released on a $25,000 bond. His public defender, Shanlyn Park, declined to comment after the hearing.

The FBI commended the state attorney general's office for conducting the underlying investigation that led to Splater's arrest.

"Over the past few years, we have seen several cases where individuals have been accused of fraudulently receiving governmental benefits," Simon said. "The FBI will work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these crimes."

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a similar case, a California woman is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 13 after pleading guilty to mail fraud. According to a plea agreement, Lynsie Williams received disability payments from Hawaii for her father, even though he died in 1990. The court documents say she deposited nearly $400,000 in a joint account and forged documents when Hawaii officials wanted to verify her father was still alive.

She faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and restitution to the state.

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