An 89-year-old Philadelphia man who escaped from a Maryland prison 47 years ago and was arrested in Philadelphia in March was charged by federal authorities Tuesday with Social Security fraud.
William Lewis is accused of collecting $457,771.20 in retirement benefits to which he was not entitled from about January 1991 to March 2017, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
According to an indictment returned by a grand jury Tuesday, Lewis was not allowed to receive benefits because he was a fugitive from the law, having escaped from a Maryland prison in 1970. The Social Security Administration has suspended or denied benefits to people wanted for, among other things, escape from custody.
Authorities said he was also receiving Social Security benefits under a false name. In October 1971, Lewis applied for a second Social Security number under the alias of James Wilson, listing a false date of birth and false names of parents, the indictment says.
Around January 1991, Lewis applied for Social Security benefits under his real Social Security number and then around July 1994 applied for benefits under his alias, the indictment says.
Lewis was charged with two counts each of mail and wire fraud and one count each of theft of government funds and Social Security fraud.
A phone number for him could not be found, and it was not known if he had an attorney.
Lewis was sentenced on Dec. 15, 1969 in Wicomico County District Court to a three-year sentence on charges of breaking and entering and larceny, a spokesman with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said Wednesday. His sentence would have ended on Oct. 22, 1972.
On July 3, 1970, he escaped from the Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit, the spokesman said.