U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock Thursday sentenced Vernon Harris, 63, of Oak Bluffs to six months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay $160,025 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and $21,605 to the Internal Revenue Service, the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced in a press release.
In December 2015, Mr. Harris pleaded guilty to stealing $160,025 in Social Security benefits and falsifying his 2010 tax return.
In 2002, Mr. Harris applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, the Justice Department said in its press release: “In his application, Mr. Harris stated that he stopped working in 2001 due to his disabilities; however, in reality, Mr. Harris was running a trucking brokerage firm called SilkRoad Logistics out of his home on Martha’s Vineyard when he applied for benefits. Mr. Harris wrote himself checks from the business’s account totaling as much as $60,000 to $70,000 in some years, and concealed the business from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In a 2012 letter Harris sent to the SSA, he falsely affirmed that ‘my wife is and has been the sole income earner in our household since my disability in 2001.’ Mr. Harris continued to collect disability benefits while running SilkRoad Logistics until 2015. In total, he illegally received $160,025 in benefits. Mr. Harris also falsified information pertaining to SilkRoad Logistics on his 2010 federal income tax return.”
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.
A message left Friday by The Times on the answering machine for the listed phone number for SilkRoad Logistics on Tiffany Lane in Oak Bluffs was not returned.