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When the U.S. Attorney’s office teams up with the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, the Department of the Treasury – Inspector General for Tax Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, they get their man.
In this case that man was Charles Daniel Koss of Independence, Missouri, and he was convicted in federal court of a scheme to receive Social Security disability payments while running a mortgage brokerage firm that he founded in Blue Springs, Missouri. He was found guilty of two counts of theft of government money, one count of Social Security disability fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of transmitting a false negotiable instrument with the intent to defraud the government.
At issue was a total of $212,768 in Social Security disability insurance payments paid between September 1994 and January 2010 while Koss was very much working full time as a loan officer. He ran the business and his wife did the paperwork, paying bills and processing documents. He was present at nearly all of the 550 mortgage closings; however, he never reported any income to Social Security. His disability payments started in 1987, however Koss had recovered enough to bowl, golf, play horseshoes, go boating, enjoy activities at his lake house and gamble a total of $260,000 at the Ameristar Casino.
The saga did not end there, though, because when the SSA sent Koss a billing statement on April 15, 2010, requesting repayment of the $212,768 he was overpaid as a result of his unreported work activity, he responded by mailing them a document entitled “Registered Private Money Order” drawing on a non existent trust account supposedly held at the United States Treasury. There was no such account and the document was bogus, but Koss had an explanation for Federal Agents.
He claimed that according to Redemption Theory, when the United States government abandoned the gold standard in 1933, it pledged its citizens as collateral so it could borrow money. The theory also asserts that common citizens can gain access to funds in secret accounts using obscure procedures and regulations. According to the theory, the government created a fictitious person (or “straw man”) corresponding to each newborn citizen and each citizen has an alleged secret trust account with the United States Treasury. The theory also claims that through obscure procedures under the Uniform Commercial Code, a citizen can “reclaim” the “straw man” and write negotiable instruments against its accounts. Its adherents sometimes call themselves “sovereign citizens.” The “sovereign citizen” movement is a loosely organized collection of groups and individuals who have adopted anarchist ideology. Its adherents believe that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate and they seek to “restore” an idealized, minimalist government that never actually existed.
Still, the jury spent three and a half hours deliberating before returning the guilty verdict. Koss has not yet been sentenced, but he could face up to 61 years behind bars. Given that he’s 63 years old, he’d be 124 when he gets released. That’s Redemption.