Conway couple pleads guilty to theft of government funds

From US States Attorney Bill Nettles:

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Joseph Phillip Curto, age 59, and Catherine Curto, agent 53, both of Conway, South Carolina, have entered guilty pleas in federal court in Florence, to theft of government funds, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell of Florence accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the US Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that in July 1992, Joseph Curto began receiving Social Security Disability benefits for a back injury. At the same time, he also began receiving Ohio Workers Compensation Benefits. In February of 2011, an investigator with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and a Social Security Administration agent began investigating and determined that Joseph Curto had been working at various jobs since November 2001. Joseph Curto also married Catherine Curto in 2001, and Catherine Curto allowed Joseph to use her Social Security number when working. Joseph Curto's employers used Catherine Curto's social security number when filing form 1099's, thus allowing Joseph Curto to hide the fact that he was working. The Curto's were overpaid $155,618.00 by the Social Security Administration and $143,202.00 by Ohio Workers Compensation.

Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty the Curtos can receive is a fine of $250,000.00 and/or imprisonment for 10 years, plus a special assessment of $100.00.

The case was investigated by agents of the Social Security Administration.