Philadelphia Officer’s Widower Charged with Fraud in Benefits Collection

The widower of a Philadelphia police officer who died while on duty has been charged with fraud after authorities say he collected hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of workers’ compensation death benefits after he had remarried.

The Philadelphia district attorney’s office announced charges of theft by deception, insurance fraud and theft by unlawful taking against 67-year-old John Higgins. Court records did not list an attorney for Higgins, but showed that he had been released without bail.

Higgins’ former wife, police officer Sharon Higgins, died of a heart attack while on duty in 1987. The district attorney’s office said her husband began collecting survivor benefits shortly after, which he was entitled to as long as he did not remarry.

The office’s economic crimes unit found Higgins had remarried in 1990, and had allegedly falsely reported himself as not remarried on dependency benefit forms filed between 2002 and 2018. A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office did not say in a news release exactly how much money Higgins is accused of collecting illegally, saying it was hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A preliminary hearing for Higgins has been scheduled for Aug. 17.