Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 8, 2019 - A jury found a trauma surgeon in Shreveport, Louisiana, guilty of stealing Social Security disability benefits totaling over $200,000. He was convicted on a single count of concealing or failing to disclose an event affecting right to a government benefit and 20 counts of theft of government property.
The federal jury delivered the guilty verdict in U.S. District Court in Shreveport after about 10 hours of deliberations. Dr. John Owings, 58, was trauma chief at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center. He received disability payments for nine years while simultaneously working at the facility and another hospital.
“The Social Security Administration has very specific rules when it comes to claiming benefits,” commented Florida social security disability attorney David W. Magann. “When trying to determine eligibility for Social Security programs, it is a good idea to speak to a social security disability attorney who can answer all your questions, help you avoid making mistakes and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.”
Owings submitted an application for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in April 2008 and received payments through June 2017. His attorney said the surgeon had a serious bone-related disease that is now in remission.
Owings failed to notify the SSA about resuming work in 2012. The University of California-Davis hired him as a surgeon with a $22,000 monthly salary.
Owings then started working as chief of the trauma center at LSU Health Sciences Center where he earned around $40,000 each month. However, federal prosecutors said he again did not inform SSA officials about his employment. Owings was hired in 2013 after the hospital’s trauma services risked losing national accreditation.
ALSU Health Shreveport spokeswoman said Owings’ felony conviction was grounds for termination of employment per hospital policy. The surgeon admitted he made mistakes but denied he was intentionally plotting to cheat the Social Security benefits program.
Owings faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years for the charges. He may also be required to pay $250,000 in fines per count and subjected to three years’ supervised released. Sentencing is scheduled for May 29.