SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — A former doctor at LSU Health and Sciences Center in Shreveport has been sentenced for stealing thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits.
Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced Wednesday that 60-year-old John T. Owings was sentenced to 21 months in prison, followed by 2 years of supervised release, for stealing Social Security benefits. Owings was also ordered to pay more than $200,000 in restitution.
Owings, who was formerly the Chief of Trauma at LSUHSC, was convicted by a federal jury in Feb. 2019 of 20 counts of theft of government property and 1 count of concealing or failing to disclose an event affecting the right to a government benefit.
The U.S. presented evidence during the trial showing that Owings applied for disability benefits in 2008 and continued to receive those benefits through June 2017, after returning to work in 2012.
When Owings went back to work as a surgeon at the University of California-Davis in 2012, making $22,000 a month, he failed to tell the Social Security Administration about his return to work.
In 2013, LSUHSC hired Owings as its trauma chief, paying him over $40,000 a month. Owings never disclosed his employment at LSUHSC to the SSA. Instead, Owings took disability insurance benefits throughout his employment at the University of California-Davis and LSUHSC that he was not entitled to.
Owings used the benefits to pay for personal expenses and fund his coin collecting hobby.
Acting U.S. Attorney Van Hook said, “Despite being a highly-paid, working trauma surgeon, Dr. Owings took advantage of a program that is designed to benefit those who are in need of assistance due to their inability to work. I would like to thank the agents with the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General for doing such an outstanding job on this case and other cases such as this by seeking out those individuals who take advantage of a program designed for the disabled. We will continue to prosecute those who abuse the system in this way.”