Federal employee pleads guilty to unauthorized representation of claims against the government
Published 11:02 pm Friday, October 29, 2021
Special to the Item
JACKSON, Miss. – Megan Mariah Patrick, 36, of Terry, Mississippi, has pleaded guilty to a six-count federal indictment charging her with unauthorized representation of claims against the government and false statements to a federal agency.
The indictment, handed up by the federal grand jury on March 16, 2021, charges Megan Mariah Patrick, Rural Development Loan Specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture in Jackson, Mississippi, with three counts of unauthorized representation of claims against the United States, and three counts of false statements to a federal agency.
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 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 a change of plea hearing on October 27, 2021, before United States District Judge Kristi H. Johnson in Jackson. Patrick was released on conditions of bond pending sentencing.
Patrick will be sentenced on February 1, 2022, and faces maximum penalties of 5 years in prison for each count of unauthorized representation, as well as for each count of false statements, for a possible grand total of 30 years, and 3 years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Each count also can merit a fine of up to $250,000.
The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. The Byram Police Department assisted with the arrest.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Theodore Cooperstein and Kevin Payne.