Man accused of taking more than $100,000 in Toledo mom’s pension payments

He kept collecting checks more than 20 years after she died


COLUMBUS — A Washington state man faces up to 7½ years in prison for allegedly collecting more than $102,000 in his Toledo mother’s state pension payments for more than two decades after she died.

Federal authorities are also looking into whether he did the same with Social Security benefits.

Raymond O’Dell, 69, was indicted Friday on felony theft, identify fraud, and record tampering charges following an investigation by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.

Helen O’Dell, whose husband was an Ohio Department of Transportation employee, received benefits through the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. For a time she lived with her son in the state of Washington until her death in 1989. She was buried in Toledo.

Pension checks, however, continued to be deposited into the joint checking account she shared with her son.

The state alleges Mr. O’Dell kept up the pretense that his mother was still receiving the checks by mailing in a change-of-address card as late as 16 years after she died.

“We believe he deliberately misled OPERS in order to take this money and spend it on himself,” Mr. DeWine said.

The problem was discovered by a routine audit last July but only after Mr. O’Dell allegedly took $102,448 in pension funds.

“Our aggressive pursuit of this case should serve notice to anyone contemplating the misuse of pension benefit dollars that OPERS will take decisive action for restitution,” said Julie Emch Becker, pension fund attorney.