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Iowan allegedly hid employment to inflate fed disability payouts

December 04, 2018, Des Moines, IA — The wife of a former Democratic state Senate candidate who sought the district 15 seat in Jasper and Polk Counties during the 2018 midterm election will stand trial May 6, 2019, for alleged federal social security crimes.

Leesa M. Parkhill-Nieland is facing one count each of theft of government funds, social security fraud — concealment and making false statements to a federal agency, according to U.S. court documents.

The charges first came to light in September during the height of the Iowa Senate general election campaign for Democrat Dan Nieland, Parkhill-Nieland’s husband.

According to court documents, the 47-year-old Altoona woman allegedly received Social Security Disability Insurance benefits from approximately December 2012 until April 2018. The indictment states during this time, Parkhill-Nieland was self-employed through two different businesses, Pine Hollow Stables — a business she operated with her husband Dan Nieland — and Coat of Many Colors.

The federal government claims Parkhill-Nieland concealed and failed to disclose that employment from the Social Security Administration in order to continue to receive payments.

Parkhill-Nieland entered a plea of not guilty Sept. 14 in United States District Court in Des Moines.

The federal jury trial was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 29, just one week before Election Day, but Parkhill-Nieland’s attorney, Todd M. Lantz, claimed in court documents filed Oct. 8, he was in the midst of a three-week trial for a separate case and would not have time to prepare for the Parkhill-Nieland proceeding. Court filings state the social security fraud investigation has produced at least 10,000 documents.

Dan Nieland, ultimately, lost his bid for Iowa Senate District 15 to Bondurant Republican and sitting Iowa State Rep. Zach Nunn.

A federal judge agreed to the continuance in an order filed Oct. 12. Attorneys for the federal government and Parkhill-Nieland have until April 8, 2019, to decide if a plea deal will be offered and/or accepted in the case.

Contact Mike Mendenhall at 641-792-3121 Ext. 6530 or at mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com.

Source: Newton Daily News

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