APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Over the course of eight years, an Appleton man received over $73,000 in federal and state benefits after knowingly concealing assets from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

According to officials, 63-year-old John Fischer was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pled guilty to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Fraud. From 2009 to 2017 Fischer received the money by concealing multiple resources from the SSA.

SSI is a national welfare program for the blind, disabled and those over 65 years of age who have little to no income and no more than $2,000 in resources.

Fischer filed for SSI saying that he met all of the criteria, when in reality he had multiple accounts and vehicles that put him well over the $2,000 limit. He reportedly had a Roth IRA that was worth more than $42,000. Fischer reportedly concealed the account from the SSA and secretly cashed out.

Additionally, Fischer paid over $48,000 for two GMC Acadia SUVs without telling the SSA that he had the money or the vehicles.

Fischer’s scheme reportedly involved concealing his accounts and vehicles under the guise of two different ‘churches’. These ‘churches’ were actually just a front to hide his assets.

U.S. District Judge William Griesbach rejected Fischer’s request for probation and ordered him to pay back the full amount for his crime. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reportedly has started an action to seize and auction two of Fischer’s vehicles, including a fully restored 1957 Chevy Bel Air. That vehicle was also concealed from the SSA.

SSI Fraud is a felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.

“Mr. Fischer’s fraudulent actions—failing to report and attempting to hide his assets—caused SSA to improperly pay benefits to which he was ineligible to receive. SSA OIG will continue to work to protect SSA benefits from fraud and misuse. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case,” said Andrew Boockmeier, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, Chicago Field Division.