ST. LOUIS -- A Maywood couple admitted their guilt to several federal charges in a Social Security fraud case that authorities said netted the family more than $270,000 during an 11-year period.
Michael and Laura Clow will be sentenced on Dec. 9 after pleading guilty Wednesday. Michael Clow, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property, one count of concealment and two counts of making false statements. Laura Clow, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property. The Clows, who are married, face up to a year in federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000 on the conspiracy charge. Michael Clow faces up to five years in prison on his other charges and a fine of up to $250,000.
Authorities said Michael Clow submitted an application for disability insurance benefits with the Social Security Administration which said he was unable to work due to chronic low back pain. He agreed to notify Social Security officials if his condition improved. He began receiving benefits that year. Authorities said Clow began to work with his father in 2001 building homes. In 2002, the Clows began to operate C&M Construction. From 2002 to 2012, Michael Clow helped provide labor for the business.
According to the information filed in Laura Clow's case, Michael Clow assisted in building houses, "spec" houses, poured concrete, installed swimming pools and did general repair work on homes. He also calculated bids for construction projects that C&M Construction competed to work on.
Federal officials said that in May 2003, Michael Clow submitted a Report of Continuing Disability Interview to Social Security officials in which he claimed that he had done no work since becoming disabled. In June 2003, Laura Clow submitted a Function Report Adult-Third Party to Social Security officials that described how his disability affected him. Laura Clow told officials that her husband could not sit or stand for more than 10 to 15 minutes without being in pain and having to lie down; could not tie his shoes because he could not bend over; could not prepare his food because he would have to stand too long; and he also could not do housework or yardwork because it required bending, twisting, sitting, standing and squatting.
On April 17, 2012, Laura Clow drove her husband to a doctor in Hannibal. During the evaluation, Michael Clow told doctors he was capable of doing activities of daily living, but otherwise would lie down because of the pain in his back, thigh and leg. Authorities said less than two hours after that exam, Michael Clow did work at a Hannibal apartment complex. Officials said he repaired a roof at Park Terrace Apartments, which forced him to walk up and down a ladder, squat, bend, walk on different sections of the roof, use a knife to cut shingles, peel and replace shingles and swing a hammer with one hand while holding a nail with his other hand.
Officials said Michael Clow collected approximately $273,634 in disability insurance benefits from Social Security from 2001 through 2012.