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Federal employee charged with unauthorized representation of claims against the government

JACKSON, Miss. – Megan Mariah Patrick, 36, of Terry, Mississippi, has been charged in a federal indictment with unauthorized representation of claims against the government and false statements to a federal agency, announced Acting United States Attorney Darren J. LaMarca, Special Agent in Charge Dax Robertson with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, and Special Agent in Charge Rodregas Owens of the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General – Atlanta Field Division.

The indictment, handed up by a federal grand jury on March 16, 2021, charges Megan Mariah Patrick, a Rural Development Loan Specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture in Jackson, with three counts of unauthorized representation of claims against the United States, and three counts of false statements to a federal agency.

“Those who disregard the conflict of interest laws and their duty of loyalty to their employer for easy profit at the expense of the taxpayer, will find themselves standing before a court of law to answer for their wrongs,” said Acting U.S. Attorney LaMarca.

According to the indictment, from August 2017 through March 2019, Patrick acted as an attorney, outside her official duties as Rural Development Loan Specialist, to represent claimants before the Social Security Administration seeking increased federal benefits.  In each case where she entered her appearance as an attorney representing the claimant before the Social Security Administrative Law Judge, Patrick filed an official form with the Social Security Administration, stating that she was not disqualified or otherwise prohibited as a federal employee from representing the claimant.  In fact, as Patrick then knew, such statement was false, because, as an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she was prohibited by law and regulation from representing claimants against the United States in the Social Security Administration.

Patrick appeared for arraignment on March 22, 2021, before U.S. Magistrate Judge LaKeysha Greer Isaac in Jackson.   She was released on conditions of bond pending trial.

If convicted, Patrick faces maximum penalties of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of unauthorized representation, as well as for each count of false statements.

The case has been set for trial on May 3, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Kristi H. Johnson in Jackson.

Acting U.S. Attorney LaMarca commended the work of the Special Agents of the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, who investigated the case.  The Byram, Mississippi, Police Department assisted with the arrest.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.

The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.