- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

DALLAS (AP) - Four North Texas relatives have been faking mental illness to get government benefits in a decades-long scam, federal prosecutors allege.

A complaint filed in federal district court in Dallas says Doreen Mitchell, her two sons and her cousin, all Arlington residents, are charged with conspiracy to defraud the Social Security Administration of nearly $462,000. Doreen Mitchell began receiving benefits in November 1978.

The 55-year-old Mitchell, her 29-year-old son, Michael Mitchell, and cousins 27-year-old Sonny Mitchell and 58-year-old John Mitchell, also known as Patrick Rena, were arrested this week. All four have made initial appearances in federal court and remain in custody pending detention hearings set for Friday and Monday.

Court documents say officers followed Doreen Mitchell in 2014 as she drove, shopped and scrolled through her cellphone. She attended a benefits revocation hearing days later and mumbled, appeared disheveled and said she couldn’t leave the house alone, the records allege.

The Social Security Administration requires Supplemental Security Income recipients, such as Mitchell, to advise of any improvements in their medical conditions, their return to work of any kind, and any changes in their income, resources, address, living arrangements, family size or composition, or family income or resources.

Court records don’t list attorneys for the Mitchells.

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