A lot of statements have been made in the press and there is a perception among the general public to the effect that Mr. Beeman committed Social Security “fraud”. Let’s set the record straight.
Mr. Beeman made some errors in judgement. In 1972 (that’s right 1972!) Mr. Beeman applied for a second Social Security number. He did this because he was employed as a truck driver who moved mobile homes and it was a common practice in those days for truck drivers to get a second license so they could continue working in case their legitimate license was suspended for some reason. This happened 39 years before he was convicted.
He subsequently used the second license and Social Security number to apply for credit cards which he paid all the bills due on. (Some fraudster!) Mr. Beeman freely admits to these things and that they were wrong.
Even David J. Conde, the U.S. Probation Officer Specialist at the Federal Courthouse in Erie Pennsylvania at the time admitted in item 17 of Mr. Beeman’s presentencing report that “There are no identifiable victims of the offense”. One has to ask, how does someone commit fraud without anyone being defrauded?
In addition, Mr. Beeman’s “criminal record” prior to this consisted entirely of minor traffic offences.
So, given that there were no victims of the offense and therefore nobody to file a complaint, how did Mr. Beeman come to the Federal authority’s attention? And that’s where the case gets interesting.
Mr. Beeman was elected to be the Sixth District representative to Erie County Council in 2009. Almost from the very second Mr. Beeman won the primary, powerful political forces in Erie County made it clear that they were opposed to his candidacy and later his election.
As a member of Erie County Council, Mr. Beeman was a budget hawk who held the line on both taxing and spending. Mr. Beeman voted against spending more than the other six members of council combined.
In Mr. Beeman’s pre sentencing report the timeline of the investigation starts by stating, “In October of 2010, the F.B.I. was conducting periodic surveillance on an individual who resided in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.” Why? Again, since there was no one to complain to the F.B.I. or any other law enforcement agency, what prompted the F.B.I. to conduct surveillance on Mr. Beeman? This was never answered. In fact, no one in the press, who breathlessly followed every turn this case took, even asked this rather obvious question.
When a criminal investigation is conducted, it pretty much always starts with the discovery of a crime or a report of a crime. Law enforcement clearly can’t investigate crime that they don’t know about. Except that in the curious case of Ebert Beeman, that seems to be what the F.B.I. is claiming. Because according to the documents obtained from the Federal Courthouse in Erie, the case doesn’t start with the discovery or report of any crime, it starts with the investigation.
There’s nothing in Ebert Beeman’s past that should have led to the F.B.I. taking an interest in him. As already stated, he had only minor traffic offences on his record. There was no one to file a complaint regarding any of the offences that Mr. Beeman was convicted of since there were no victims. So why was the F.B.I. “conducting periodic surveillance” on Ebert Beeman? Was it Mr. Beeman’s perfectly legitimate political activities that prompted the surveillance? Did someone in the local political arena put pressure on Federal authorities because they feared what Mr. Beeman might find out or talk about? For example, the situation with GECAC that came to light last year? Was it because Mr. Beeman’s property housed the office of the Libertarian Party of Erie County and had been used for a number of dissident political activities?
Ebert Beeman exercised poor judgement. What he did was wrong, and it deserved some sort of punishment. But Ebert Beeman didn’t harm anyone. No one suffered any losses because of Mr. Beeman’s acts.
What about the F.B.I.? Do we live in a country where the government goes around “conducting periodic surveillance” of people for no apparent reason? Do we want to?
Please note that while we would like to release the full presentencing report we are prohibited from doing so by order of the court. Doing so would put us under threat of contempt of court citations.
The average American commits Three Felonies a day.