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Elmo man admits to stealing Social Security from dead mother, not reporting dog grooming proceeds

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Elmo man admits to stealing Social Security from dead mother, not reporting dog grooming proceeds

May 28, 2024 | 10:44 pm ET
By Nicole Girten
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Elmo man admits to stealing Social Security from dead mother, not reporting dog grooming proceeds
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Photo illustration by Getty Images.

An Elmo man on Tuesday pled guilty to fraud and stealing more than $120,000 in Social Security benefits, including funds intended for his deceased mother, as well as not disclosing his assets, which included profits from a dog grooming business.

Gerry Alen Albus, 64, admitted in a May 2022 interview with Social Security agents he didn’t pay rent, lived with his partner (who was also his landlord), did not disclose vehicles or income and that he took his mother’s Social Security benefits after she died because he felt he was “entitled” to them, according to court documents and the Montana U.S. Attorney’s office.

Albus is facing a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

First approved to receive Social Security income benefits in 2015, Albus reported he moved to Elmo in 2016, living alone and paying rent to a landlord. But Albus didn’t pay rent, and his landlord was actually his romantic partner.

In 2017, Albus and his partner converted the 20 acres of land into a dog grooming business. Albus’ mother died in March of that year and following the sale of her house in Florida that June, Albus collected proceeds as a co-owner of the property. He didn’t report his ownership interest in the house nor the profits from the sale.

Albus went on to collect his mother’s monthly Social Security payments, $2,000, from March of 2017 to November of 2021, which he used for personal expenses.

Other assets Albus didn’t report included three cars, multiple bank accounts and the money from the dog grooming business.

Albus told agents in 2022 he knew “if he reported all his income and assets, it would have reduced or eliminated his SSA payments,” the state said.

Albus received nearly $61,000 in benefits he wasn’t eligible for as well as about $60,000 from the funds intended for his mother.

He was released pending further proceedings, with sentencing scheduled for Sept. 24.