DiNapoli: Pennsylvania Man Impersonated Deceased Father to Steal His NYS Pension and Social Security Payments

Feb 15, 2023

From the Office of the New York State Comptroller:

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA OIG), the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation today announced the arrest and guilty plea of Timothy Gritman, a Pennsylvania resident, on wire fraud and Social Security fraud charges for stealing over $200,000 of retirement benefits paid to his deceased father. From October 2017 through October 2022, Gritman stole $117,194 in pension benefits from the New York State and Local Retirement System and $87,790 in Social Security benefits.

“Timothy Gritman hid his father’s death to collect his pension and Social Security payments for more than four years, going so far as posing as his deceased father to keep his fraud going,” DiNapoli said. “Thanks to the work of my investigative team and our partners in law enforcement, he has been brought to justice. My office will continue to hold anyone who seeks to defraud the pension system accountable no matter who or where they are.”

“Representing the United States in court means protecting taxpayer funds, including pursuing cases where there is an attempt to obtain money from the SSA fraudulently,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Defendant Gritman physically represented himself as his elderly father to steal funds from the SSA. His guilty plea should serve as a warning that defrauding the SSA or any other government agency will never be worth money fraudulently obtained.”

“Concealing someone’s death to obtain their Social Security retirement benefits is criminal and this arrest exemplifies that we are committed to protecting Social Security’s programs from fraudsters,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who abuse SSA programs. I thank the NYS Comptroller’s office for their work in this investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”

New York state pensioner Ralph Gritman retired from the Nassau County Clerk’s Office in 1992 and moved to Wyoming from Pennsylvania with his son, Timothy Gritman, in August 2017. In September 2017, Medicare records showed he went to a hospital emergency room in Wyoming. That was the last time his Medicare benefits were ever used.

The father and son shared a joint bank account where Ralph’s retirement benefits were electronically deposited. Both Ralph Gritman’s pension and Social Security benefits were to cease upon his death, but Timothy Gritman, now 55, covered up his father’s death in order to continue to receive his retirement benefits.

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. Ralph Gritman’s body still has not been located.

A call to DiNapoli’s Fraud Hotline led to a joint investigation and the suspension of Ralph Gritman’s pension payments. Gritman continued to purport that his father was alive and requested that his pension 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. 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.

Gritman pleaded guilty before Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg and is due back in court for sentencing on May 31.

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