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Yardley Man Sentenced for Stealing Daughter's Benefits

March 11, 2016

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marc Furber, 215.348.6339, mjfurber@buckscounty.org


A Yardley man was sentenced today to serve six to 23 months in the Bucks County Correctional Facility for stealing more than $55,000 in Social Security benefits that should have gone to his daughter.

Harry Lawrence, 54, had pleaded guilty in January to one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received – a third-degree felony because of the amount stolen.

Lawrence, who is disabled, unlawfully received $58,680 in Social Security benefit payments from February 2008 through February 2015 as the representative payee for his teenage daughter. All of the money should have gone for his daughter’s care and support, but banking records revealed that Lawrence only spent $2,830 on the girl.

“This was a series of decisions to defraud the Social Security Administration and deny your daughter benefits,” said Bucks County Judge Rea B. Boylan. In addition to the prison time, Boylan sentenced Lawrence to a consecutive two-year term of probation, and ordered him to repay the Social Security Administration for all of the benefits he received in his daughter’s name.

Lawrence and the girl were eligible for benefits because of his physical inability to work and provide for her support, but her checks should not have gone to him. In completing a government application for the benefits, Lawrence falsely claimed to have had primary custody of the girl.

Investigators found instead that a 2006 order out of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas had given primary custody to Lawrence’s ex-wife. The child resided with Lawrence only on weekends during the school year, specified days during the summer, and alternating holidays.

That arrangement did not change throughout the time that Lawrence received the Social Security payments. Each year, he would file annual reports in which he falsely stated that his daughter had lived with him throughout the entire year, and that all the payments he had received had been put toward the care and support of the child.

Lawrence claimed to have thought that all of the money was his, said Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber, who prosecuted the case.

“This is not as benign as the defendant would lead you to believe,” Furber told Boylan. “What this is really about is … he was not entitled to receive this money in the first place. She was never in his primary custody.”

Lawrence faces additional prosecution on sex assault charges.

He has been held in the Bucks County Correctional Facility since his arrest Dec. 22 on charges of aggravated indecent assault of a child and other charges. Investigators allege that Lawrence sexually molested two young sisters at a day care center that his then-wife operated out of their home in Falls Township.

Lawrence is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail while awaiting trial on the sex charges.

The theft case was investigated by Bucks County Detective Eric Landamia and 
Special Agent Theresa M. Bray of the Social Security Administration / Office of the Inspector General.

Approved for release by Michelle A. Henry, First Assistant District Attorney.

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