State

Heavy-equipment operator claimed blindness to get disability. Now he's going to prison.

A heavy-equipment operator from Pulaski County who claimed he was blind to get disability benefits has been sentenced to a year and three months in federal prison and ordered to repay $166,583 to the Social Security Administration.

John Arthur pleaded guilty in the case to one charge of aiding and abetting receipt of stolen money. His wife Sherri pleaded guilty to the same charge.

U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom sentenced Sherri Arthur to probation for five years. She also is liable for the restitution.

John Arthur applied for disability benefits in early 2005, saying he was blind and unable to work, according to a court record.

After that, however, Arthur had surgery that led to an improvement in his eyesight and he was able to work throughout the time he received disability checks from January 2006 until late 2015, according to the court record.

Arthur had his employers pay his wife in order to hide the fact that he was working, he acknowledged in his plea agreement.

Arthur received a total of 118 disability checks and 73 checks for benefits related to his two children.

The Arthurs started repaying Social Security after the scheme came to light, even before they were charged.

They had repaid a little over $10,000 by February, Arthur’s attorney, Brenda Popplewell, said in a motion.

Popplewell sought a lower sentence for Arthur, citing his longtime service at a Baptist church, including as a deacon and Sunday School teacher; his work helping disaster victims through the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry; and other charitable work.

Horn opted for the 15-month sentence during a hearing on Tuesday in federal court in London.

Arthur must report to prison by July 30.

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