A 73-year-old man is being accused of defrauding the state pension plan by more than a quarter of a million dollars in a years-long scheme involving his dead mother.
A Wake County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Ben Colvard III for obtaining property by false pretenses, a felony.
He's accused of collecting pension checks meant for his mother for more than 15 years after she died. In all, he's accused of wrongfully taking $266,747.71 from the pension plan that is funded by taxpayers and public employees.
According to the North Carolina treasurer's office, which oversees the plan, Colvard could face anywhere from four to 15 years in prison if he's convicted.
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The grand jury indictment said Colvard's mother was a retired state employee whose monthly pension payments were sent to a joint checking account she shared with Colvard.
After she died in February 2001, the payments should have stopped — but Colvard kept collecting them until April 2016, the grand jury said.
According to court records, Colvard lives in Florida and had not been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon. He did not have a lawyer listed in the court documents.
North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell said in a press release that he encouraged anyone who suspects fraud or abuse in the pension system to call a tip hotline at (919) 814-4085.
"I have a duty to protect the pension plan so the people who deserve to get checks keep getting them,” Folwell said. "The indictment shows that we’re serious about making sure there are consequences for people who cash checks they don’t deserve."
The state pension plan, with a fund of $90 billion, could be underfunded by several billion dollars in the future. It is nevertheless one of the most stable pension plans in the country.