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Oct. 17, 2021

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Kitsap County man sentenced for fraudulently collecting $400K in disability benefits

Brother went missing in Clark County in 1988

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A Kitsap County man was sentenced Thursday to 25 months in federal prison for fraudulently collecting nearly $400,000 of his brother’s Social Security disability benefits, after his brother went missing while traveling to Clark County more than 30 years ago.

Chris H. Sayler, 74, of Olalla was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a Department of Justice news release.

Sayler had been collecting the Social Security benefits of his brother, Jarvis L. Sayler, since at least 1998, totaling more than $388,000 over 20 years. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Diggs said the actual loss was likely more than $500,000, but records only exist as far back as 1998, the news release states.

Jarvis Sayler traveled from his home in Missouri to Clark County in 1988, telling relatives he planned to visit Chris Sayler. He wrote letters to Missouri between June and September of that year but wasn’t heard from again before another brother reported him missing in March 1989, according to the news release.

When the Clark County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Chris Sayler about his brother’s whereabouts, he claimed Jarvis Sayler left his home after an argument, according to the news release. That was reportedly the last time anyone saw Jarvis Sayler.

Jarvis Sayler was born with partial eyesight and had been receiving Social Security disability benefits since 1977, according to the news release.

In 2013, when a person claiming to be Jarvis Sayler tried to renew his Washington identification, the renewal was denied after facial recognition software matched the photo with Chris Sayler’s driver’s license. Chris Sayler claimed they were twins, despite the fact they were born four years apart. The investigation later revealed that Chris Sayler and Jarvis Sayler are not biologically related, according to the news release.

The state Department of Licensing referred the matter to the Social Security Office of Inspector General for investigation in 2019. Investigators found that, as early as 1998, Chris Sayler’s photo appeared on Jarvis Sayler’s identification card. Jarvis Sayler’s Social Security benefits went to a bank account opened with an address in Vancouver, the news release said.

After Chris Sayler moved to Olalla, the address on the account was updated, and ATM withdrawal and debit card records from retailers show he withdrew money and made purchases using Jarvis Sayler’s account, according to the news release.

Chris Sayler told family members in September 2019 that he had not seen his brother in more than 15 years. But when interviewed by law enforcement at the time of his arrest in October 2019, he claimed he last saw his brother in 2016 and before that in 2012, the news release said.

“Over the course of this investigation, the defendant has made conflicting statements about when he last saw his brother — who was reported missing in 1989,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said in the news release. “Our hope was that the investigation could shed light on what happened to Jarvis Sayler. While that has not happened, we are able to hold his brother accountable for stealing benefits from government programs that are designed to help the most needy in our community.”

Anyone with information on Jarvis Sayler’s disappearance should contact the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.