For years, a woman in Florida worried “about getting in trouble every day” while continuing to collect her father’s Social Security benefits after his death, federal prosecutors say.
She was able to steal $112,661 worth of his benefits for more than five years because she never told the Social Security Administration that he died in November 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
Eventually, federal investigators caught on to the theft and confronted her, the office announced in a Dec. 9 news release.
Now the woman, 52, of Beverly Hills, has pleaded guilty to stealing government funds, the release said. Beverly Hills is a community about 80 miles northwest of Orlando.
McClatchy News contacted her attorney for comment on Dec. 9 and didn’t immediately receive a response.
Federal authorities completed an audit of the man’s account in February 2021, learned the man had died and stopped sending the checks, the plea agreement said. Within a month, the account was overdrawn
In March, a special agent interviewed her about taking her father’s benefits and she said she was “in a financial hole” and admitted she was aware of her wrongdoing, according to the plea agreement.
In addition to her father’s Social Security pension, the woman also collected more than $167,000 in Coast Guard retirement benefits that she wasn’t entitled to after he died, according to the plea agreement. These payments stopped in April 2020.
The woman faces a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, the release said. She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9.
The plea agreement also requires the woman to return the money. Since she spent it all, she will be required to forfeit other assets — and help the government find them.