KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – A Tri-Cities lawyer has been convicted on several charges related to stealing from the federal government. On Monday, a jury convicted 57-year-old Everett Mechem on several federal charges including 28 counts of wire fraud.
The decision was made after a five-day trial at the Greeneville federal courthouse.
Mechem was also convicted on two counts of Supplemental Security Income fraud, two counts of providing false statements and one count of theft from the federal government.
According to prosecutors, from January 2009 to July 2013 Mechem acted as attorney and payee for his wife. Prosecutors say he schemed to collect SSI payments all the while claiming his wife’s inability to work.
Investigators say he reported he was living separately from his wife and she had little to no income, but during that time, the couple rented a five-bedroom home in Kingsport, purchased a new home in 2012 and shared profits of the law firm.
In addition, federal investigators say Mechem conceal that his wife served as a spokesperson and was working as a paralegal and office manager at his practice, Mechem Law Firm, P.C. in Kingsport.
Nancy Harr, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee said, “As a program meant to help those who can’t afford the basic necessities of life, the integrity of the Social Security Administration’s SSI program is vital to its continued success. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to pursue and prosecute those who attempt to defraud that federal program and the United States.”
His sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. on September 21 in the U.S. District Court in Greeneville.