The former owner of a San Juan Island coffee shop called Criminal Coffee was found guilty today in U.S. District Court of filing false disability claims while continuing to work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Jurors in Seattle deliberated for about two hours before convicting Cory Eglash, 52, of conspiracy to defraud the United States, mail fraud and making false statements, after a four-day trial. He is to be sentenced April 28.
Eglash’s girlfriend, Ramona Hayes, 41, was also charged in the case, but she pleaded guilty before the trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
According to filings in the case and trial testimony, the couple filed claims with the Social Security Administration indicating they were disabled and unable to work. In her application, filed in early 2011, Hayes claimed she was unable to deal with the public and could not venture outdoors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
In his application, filed in November 2011, Eglash stated that he was so disabled that he was “almost home-bound,” and could not work or play sports.
However, an investigation revealed that Eglash and Hayes worked at Criminal Coffee, and that Eglash also earned $17 an hour working at a public aquarium on San Juan Island, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Eglash also played in two full-court pickup basketball games at a community center the same week that he submitted his application claiming he could not be physically active. To prove their point, federal prosecutors showed the jury videos of Eglash and Hayes working at Criminal Coffee.
Eglash’s application was never approved. But Hayes fraudulently collected more than $42,000.
Conspiracy to defraud the United States is punishable by up to 10 years in prison; mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; and making false statements to the government is punishable by up to five years.