'Bogus beggar' pleads guilty to fraud charges

AP News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2016 9:28 PM

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man who claims to have made as much as $100,000 annually by panhandling while pretending to be disabled pleaded guilty Wednesday to misrepresenting his condition to get Social Security benefits.

Local news outlets report that 33-year-old Gary Hank Thompson — dubbed the "bogus beggar" — pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green to making false statements and representations to the Social Security Administration.

Thompson obtained $24,884 in Supplemental Security Income benefits that he was not entitled to receive between 2009 and 2013, prosecutors said. He also received $81,831 in Medicaid benefits during the same period.

Federal investigators said Thompson misrepresented his mental condition during an initial interview with Social Security in 2009 and then again in 2013.

Thompson will be sentenced in June. Prosecutors are seeking 27 months in jail.

In 2013, Thompson said he earned between $60,000 and $100,000 as a panhandler who pretended to be disabled. He pleaded guilty that year to two counts of theft by deception for taking money from shoppers under the guise that he was handicapped.