Sebastian County couple faces ten-year sentence after guilty plea on Social Security fraud charges
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the convictions of Sebastian County Justice of the Peace Rebekah Schwartz and husband Stephen Schwartz for Social Security fraud.
Rebekah and Stephen pleaded guilty in the Western District of Arkansas on March 2 to federal felony Theft of Government Funds and Aiding and Abetting the Theft of Government Funds related to fraudulently accepting Social Security Administration disability benefits while also operating a countertop remodeling business.
This case was investigated by the Little Rock Cooperative Disability Investigations Unit (CDI). The CDI unit was established in 2016 to combat fraud committed against the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) disability programs and related federal and State benefit and insurance programs.
The Unit is a joint effort of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SSA OIG), the Arkansas Attorney General and the Arkansas Disability Determination for SSA.
“No one is above the law, especially elected officials who are entrusted by their local communities,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We must aggressively go after those who take government funds out of greed and ensure money is available for Arkansans in need.”
In November 2020, the Little Rock – CDI Unit received a tip that a Title II - Disability Insurance Benefit (DIB) program participant, Stephen Schwartz, was working and simultaneously receiving disability benefits. From June 2016 to September 2016, Stephen began employment with Liberty Roofing of Fort Smith, but had his paychecks issued under his wife’s name in order to conceal that he was working despite claiming a disability.
Additionally, the investigation revealed that Stephen obtained employment from December 2016 to July 2017, at a local countertop business in Fort Smith until he and his wife started their own business, Schwartz Quartz and Stone.
On August 19, 2019, Stephen Schwartz was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace of Sebastian County after being appointed by the Governor of Arkansas. He remained in this position until December 2020, which includes the time that he was defrauding the Social Security Administration.
After his term ended, Rebekah Schwartz was elected as Justice of the Peace in Sebastian County, a position she presently holds.
The couple faces up to 10 years in prison. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner.
A sentencing date has not been set by the court.