State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan K. Buchanan and Inspector General for the Social Security Administration Gail S. Ennis today announced that Sandra Smith, a resident of Georgia, has pleaded guilty to the federal crime of theft of government funds and must pay back $459,050 in New York state pension and Social Security payments that were issued to her deceased mother-in-law.
“Exploiting the death of a family member for personal profit is a heinous crime,” DiNapoli said. “The defendant took advantage of our state pension fund and the Social Security Administration but as a result of our joint investigation her crimes were discovered. She now faces the consequences of her actions. My thanks to U.S. Attorney Buchanan and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General for their partnership in ensuring justice was served and restitution was made in this case.”
Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of government funds. Under her plea agreement, she will pay $264,699 in restitution to the state pension system and $194,351 to the SSA.
The defendant’s late-mother-in-law, Minnie Smith, was an employee of the New York State Insurance Fund for 20 years until retiring in 2005. To be closer to family, she moved from Brooklyn to Georgia afterward and passed away there on Sept. 14, 2006.
As her mother-in-law’s caretaker, Sandra Smith had access to her bank account, which she kept open after her mother-in-law’s death to enable the theft of continued payments from the New York state pension system and Social Security. The thefts were discovered and investigated by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations and the SSA-OIG.
Smith, 49, pleaded before Judge Eleanor Ross of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Author(s): press release
Publication Date: 11 July 2023
Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller
A New York woman is facing prison time after admitting that she hid her mother’s death for years in order to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in her teacher pension benefits.
Long Island resident Cynthia Rozzell, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
Prosecutors said Rozzell concealed the death of her mother, Mary Garrett, and collected pension benefits issued to Garrett by the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS) between May 2014 and May 2020.
“Pension theft is not a victimless crime,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “By stealing her deceased mother’s pension benefits, Ms. Rozzell dishonored countless hardworking New Yorkers who have dedicated their lives to one of our most noble professions: teaching and enriching our youth.”
Author(s): Michael Mashburn
Publication Date: 9 Aug 2022
Publication Site: Daily Voice
He was thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo – but when officials went to congratulate Sogen Kato on his 111th birthday, they uncovered mummified skeletal remains lying in his bed.
Mr Kato may have been dead for 30 years according to Japanese authorities.
They grew suspicious when they went to honour Mr Kato at his address in Adachi ward, but his granddaughter told them he “doesn’t want to see anybody”.
Police are now investigating the family on possible fraud charges.
But the family had received 9.5 million yen ($109,000: £70,000) in widower’s pension payments via Mr Kato’s bank account since his wife died six years ago, and some of the money had recently been withdrawn.
Publication Date: 29 July 2010
Publication Site: BBC
Gardaí are investigating the death of a man in Carlow town, whose body was brought into a post office by two others in what appeared to be an attempt to claim the deceased’s pension.
The bizarre series of events began when a man entered the post office at Hosey’s shop on Staplestown Road at about 11.30 am on Friday.
The man wanted to collect a pension payment on behalf of an older man but was informed by a staff member that the pensioner would have to be present if a payment was to be made.
The man left the post office and returned a short time later with two other men, one of whom was in his 60s. The two younger men are understood to have sought a pension payment for the third man, who it appeared was being propped up.
The deceased man, named locally as Peadar Doyle, is believed to have been in his late 60s and a resident of Pollerton Road, close to the post office.
Author(s): Jack Power, Ronan McGreevy
Publication Date: 21 Jan 2022
Publication Site: The Irish Times
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler today announced that former Town of Bethel Tax Collector Debra Gabriel, of Bethel, pleaded guilty before Judge Peter Feinberg in the Town of Rockland Justice Court to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, in connection with a scheme to defraud the New York State and Local Retirement System. Gabriel, 62, had resigned her public office and retired in August 2020.
At the time that she pleaded guilty, Gabriel admitted having submitted a false “Record of Activity” with the Town of Bethel for filing with the State Comptroller. Records of Activity are documents in which certain appointed or elected officials must record a daily detail of their hours worked and duties and certify their accuracy. The information is used to calculate their service time for retirement benefits.
An investigation of Gabriel’s Records of Activity conducted by the New York State Comptroller’s Office and the New York State Police revealed that from April 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2019, she falsely claimed credit for full-time work for the Town of Bethel when her actual hours were far less. For example, in 2018 and 2019, she had a full-time job with a private healthcare company, while claiming to also have worked full-time as a Tax Collector for Bethel. Her false claims increased her service credit toward retirement by more than seven years, according to Comptroller DiNapoli. Gabriel turned over a certified check in the amount of $6,377.46 to prosecutors from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as restitution to the State of New York for the amount of pension benefits that she was overpaid.
Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli
Publication Date: 5 Nov 2021
Publication Site: NY Office of the Comptroller