Toms River Man Ran Successful Donut Operation While Taking State Disability Payments from NJ Transit Job

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – A Toms River man stood before the U.S. District Court in Illinois and admitted he was collecting disability payments from his former job at NJ Transit while operating a successful donut shop in Toms River.

Richard W. Browner, 65, the former co-owner of OB-CO Donuts on Fischer Boulevard, admitted to his crime and expressed forgiveness before the judge in a video conference court session. He has been sentenced to three years of probation and charged a $10,000 fine.

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Browner had been collecting disability benefits since filing his claim in 2016 with the United States Railroad Retirement Board. That board is based out of Chicago, which is why it fell under the jurisdiction of the Illinois District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to Department of Justice filings, Browner was one of six former railroad workers charged in May of 2021 for disability benefits fraud.

The indictments accuse the defendants of working other jobs while providing false information to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board’s Disability Benefits Division.  The defendants were charged as part of an ongoing, nationwide investigation into alleged fraud perpetrated against benefits programs administered by the RRB to rail workers and their families,” the DOJ said. “The investigation is being jointly conducted by the RRB Office of Inspector General, FBI, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.”

The DOJ alleged in court filings, Browner co-owned and managed OB-CO Donuts in Toms River for six years while simultaneously receiving occupational disability benefits; Bonner captained a chartered fishing boat in Florida for three years while simultaneously receiving occupational disability benefits.

During the investigation, Browner misrepresented his position at OB-CO to a federal agent.

The government said Browner claimed $226,000 in benefits he was not entitled to, the government claimed.

Browner purchased the 70-year-old OB-CO Donuts in 2010, but sold the business in 2021.

Judge Sarah Ellis told Browner that since he has been making restitution to the government and has shown genuine remorse, she sentenced him only to probation as federal prosecutors sought to imprison him for up to 21 months.