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Florida Pastor Accused of Collecting Dead Person’s Social Security Benefits for Nearly 12 Years

Michael Gene Bryant
Screengrab via Local 10

A Miami pastor has been accused of collecting the social security benefits of someone who died nearly 12 years ago. Michael Gene Bryant of Greater Sweetfield Missionary Baptist Church in the Coconut Grove neighborhood faces multiple charges, including theft of government funds and making false statements to a federal agency. 

According to the federal indictment, Bryant became the representative payee for an individual referred to as “H.L.G.” in December of 1996. 

Representative payees are designated for individuals who are not able to manage their Social Security benefits on their own. The representative payee is required to use the payments to care for the needs of the beneficiary. 

The individual for whom Bryant was the representative payee died in October 2012. However, the indictment said that Bryant continued to receive benefits until January of this year and that he lied on several reports by claiming that “H.L.G.” was still under his care. 

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The indictment did not reveal how much money Bryant had allegedly received illegitimately from Social Security over the past 12 years. 

Bryant has been serving as pastor of Greater Sweetfield Missionary Baptist Church since February 2021. In December of that year, the Coconut Grove community published a story about Bryant on its website, praising him for carrying on “a legacy of faith and service.”

He told the publication that his “super power” was his “gift of discernment. To make a spiritually conscious decision on behalf of the people I’m in contact with.”

The article also said that Bryant was the founder of Agape 4 Orphans International, “a non-profit that helps at-risk children and young adults with disabilities and special needs prepare for life beyond the classroom.”

The homepage of Agape 4 Orphans’ website says, “launching soon,” but provides no other information.

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One former member of Greater Sweetfield Missionary Baptist Church told Local 10 that she was “shocked” by the allegations against Bryant.