Dear Dad: Pa. man allegedly impersonated his dead father to steal pension checks, comptroller says
He was “dad” on arrival.
A Pennsylvania man was so intent on stealing his dead dad’s pension and Social Security payments that he even used make-up to “whiten his hair and eyebrows” to impersonate his elderly father to skeptical authorities.
The grifter, Timothy Gritman, 55, stole $204,985 in NY state pension and Social Security funds paid out to his dad, Ralph, from October 2017 to October 2022, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said.
Ralph Gritman, 79, of Freeport, LI, retired from the Nassau County Clerk’s Office in 1992 and moved with his wife, Naomi, to a retirement community in Pennsylvania approximately three years later, DiNapoli said.
After Naomi died in 2010, Ralph was unable to keep up with his home and moved in with his son in 2014, the comptroller’s office said.
Father and son pulled up stakes and moved to Wyoming in Aug. 2017, DiNapoli said.
The elder Gritman went to a hospital emergency room in Wyoming a month later, Medicare records showed. That was the last time his Medicare benefits were ever used, the comptroller said.
The father was “in poor health in 2016 when he was last seen alive by relatives” at his son’s Pennsylvania residence, authorities said.
In 2019, Timothy Gritman told a family member that his father had died several years earlier, but would not say where he was buried or what had happened to his body, DiNapoli said.
A call to DiNapoli’s fraud hotline sparked a joint investigation that included the FBI and Pennsylvania authorities and led to the suspension of Ralph Gritman’s pension payments, the comptroller said. But his shady son continued to claim his father was alive and requested the pension payments be resumed.
When DiNapoli’s office asked to speak with Ralph Gritman, his son would either claim the older man was asleep or would try to imitate his dad’s voice, authorities alleged.
So the comptroller’s office asked for photographic evidence of his father holding a current ID card.
The scheming son then sent investigators a picture of himself, in which he tried to disguise himself as his dad by “appearing to use make-up to whiten his hair and eyebrows” and, holding a “bogus” Pennsylvania State identification card, DiNapoli and FBI officials said.
Timothy Gritman was arrested on Feb. 14 and pleaded guilty in US District Court, Philadelphia, to wire fraud and Social Security fraud, according to the state comptroller’s office. He faces a maximum of 285 years in prison, a three-year period of supervised release, and $3.7 million in fines at sentencing on May 31.
Ralph Gritman’s body has still not been found. He is believed to have died of natural causes, authorities said.
The seedy swindle got off the ground because father and son shared a joint bank account where the elder Gritman’s retirement benefits were electronically deposited, DiNapoli noted.
“To date, R.G.’s body has not been located and defendant Gritman has refused to admit to family members or law enforcement where R.G. is buried,” reads the scammer’s guilty plea memorandum.
“Needless to say, defrauding the government is a criminally bad idea and the FBI and our partners will continue to pursue anyone bold enough, and foolish enough, to do so,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.
“My office will continue to hold anyone who seeks to defraud the pension system accountable no matter who or where they are,” DiNapoli said.
Timothy did not return a message seeking comment.