What Do Fish Stories Have To Do With Disability Benefits?
Prominent fishing guide and angler Billy Swan is facing serious allegations of being less than forthcoming when it comes to his on-the-water exploits. A federal grand jury charged him with wire fraud, mail fraud for allegedly filing false documents with the Social Security Administration (SSA), Social Security fraud, and perjury for allegedly lying under oath to an administrative-law judge.
Swan claimed that he could not work. A job-related accident limited his activities specifically to eating, resting and performing basic tasks around his house. However, he now faces allegations of guiding as many as 300 fishing trips annually in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.
According to a federal indictment, Swan applied for Title II disability benefits in 2006. His application stated that the disabling injury “interfered with his ability to stand, sit or walk, and that he had difficulty carrying on a conversation because of his inability to concentrate.”
The indictment claims that he did not disclose his business ownership, Swanny’s Guided Fishing, a year-round guide service. In that capacity, Swann appeared on radio and television. In addition, he also spoke at fishing seminars.
The SSA denied Swan’s initial application for benefits. In his appeal before an administrative-law judge, the defendant told the court that his only work activity consisted of several weeks of volunteer work at an Alaska fishing camp over the summer.
After the second denial, Swann appealed to the U.S. District Court and submitted documents, acknowledging his fishing-guide service. Swan claimed the new business was unsuccessful and the sole attempt to work since 2007. Yet, according to prosecutors, his guide service generated more than $750,000 between 2006 and 2016.
Swan has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. His trial is set for October 2.