Whistleblowers speak out in SSA fraud case

Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 7:53 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A decade after first sounding the alarm about an alleged scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration over disability claims, Jennifer Griffith and Sarah Carver are now speaking out.

In 2011, Griffith and Carver filed a whistleblower lawsuit against attorney Eric Conn, former Social Security Administrative Judge David Daugherty and psychologist Dr. Alfred Adkins, hoping to shed some light on the illegal scheme federal authorities now say the trio was involved in through the years.

"It almost seemed like it was too good to be true," Jennifer Griffith said. "It was a big relief to see that something had finally happened after nine or ten years of trying to bring this out. So, I was very relieved."

Despite the arrests, both Griffith and Carver say the current indictments aren't enough.

"I do think there should be more people because there were more people within the agency that were allowed to either retire early or were promoted," Sarah Carver said. "Several of the managers that were in management throughout this time that this was all going on, several were still there or have received major promotions. It's the lack of accountability that I feel is an issue."

After exposing this scheme, Griffith and Carver say they were harassed while still working at the Huntington Social Security office by their superiors and even their own fellow co-workers.

"They would turn around and question why we were reporting it," Carver said, "why are you wasting your time emailing us and not doing your job? I don't think a lot of people consider what we went through in order to be able to keep telling our story and get what needed to be done."

Carver says during the investigation, she was forced to work in a room by herself at the Social Security office eight hours a day for 10 months. She says during that time, Eric Conn and others hired a private investigator to follow her around, in hopes of getting her fired from her job.

"The private investigator apparently set outside of my home from the time I was working in the morning to that evening," Carver said. "He even went to the point of following me after hours and on the weekend when I would take my children to their athletic practices."

Both women say they and their families have suffered health issues from the stress. And while they say they're happy Conn and others have been indicted, they say it could have happened much sooner if officials would have listened to their complaints a decade ago.

"Had the agency just put a stop to this behavior, and the practice that was going on in 2006 when we first reported it, we wouldn't be having this conversation," Griffith said. "It never would have happened."

Both women say the big problem is each Social Security Administration office sets monthly goals to get as many disability cases through the system. They say many employees within the Social Security office can get monetary or production bonuses or even promotions when they meet or exceed their quota.