PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man who assumed the identity of a dead child more than 30 years ago, worked under the child’s name and later applied for Social Security retirement benefits under his and the child’s names was sentenced to two years of federal probation.
Robert Lizaragga, of Gresham, obtained a Social Security number in the child’s name and used that identity as his own from 1991 on, according to a federal prosecutor.
Lizarraga, 70, collected double in retirement benefits, having worked under his real name until 1991 and then under the child’s name, according to court records.
The Internal Revenue Service also sent him CARES Act checks for both identities, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Sowray.
Lizarraga told the judge he went to a courthouse and obtained the dead child’s name and birthdate from court records, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. It’s unclear if he had known the child or what spurred him to commit the crime.
In June, he pleaded guilty to theft of government funds and making a false statement.
Lizarraga has repaid the Social Security Administration $12,509.60 in retirement benefits that he collected in the child’s name from 2017 through 2020 and also sent a $1,200 check to repay the IRS for the extra CARES Act check, according to Assistant Federal Public Defender Michelle Sweet.
Lizarraga said he was sorry.