Mother, son charged with disability fraud

(USAF / Joshua Magbanua)
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 3:05 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A St. Louis County mother and son were charged with defrauding the Social Security Administration by falsely claiming a mental disability.

Gino Rives, 35, and Zella Rives, 57, both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud and five counts of theft of government funds. Zella Rives had an additional charge of making a false statement, to which she also pleaded not guilty.

An indictment against the two alleges they defrauded the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income Program of more than $88,000 from 2010 to 2023. Federal prosecutors allege they falsely claimed Gino Rives had mental disabilities with little or no income and resources. Despite claiming he couldn’t work, drive, or pay bills, the indictment alleges Gino and Zella Rives concealed his construction and other work, a 2009 conviction for financial exploitation of the elderly, as well as vehicles and homes he owned and a receipt for $721,000 worth of checks from an elderly person.

The conspiracy and wire fraud charges have a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Making a false statement carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Theft of government funds has a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.