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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

South Jersey Man Sentenced To One Year In Prison For Stealing Father’s Benefit Checks For 22 Years After His Death

CAMDEN, N.J. – A South Jersey man who hid his father’s death from authorities to continue getting his Social Security payments was sentenced today to 12 months in prison for stealing more than $200,000 in retirement savings benefits paid out to the deceased, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Michael Shelton, 66, of Pennsauken, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle to an information charging him with one count of theft of government funds. Judge Simandle imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Shelton admitted that when his father died in March of 1990, he intentionally did not notify the Social Security Administration (SSA), as he was obligated to do, so that he could continue to receive his father’s SSA retirement checks. The SSA discovered the death in June of 2012, at which time the deceased was receiving $977 in monthly retirement benefits.

After his father had died, Shelton set up a direct deposit for the checks into a PNC Bank account in his father’s name. Shelton acknowledged he accessed that account at various times and used the money to pay for personal expenses. Shelton admitted that from March 1990 to July 2012, he collected $204,606 to which he was not entitled.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Simandle sentenced Shelton to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $204,606 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. Shelton was also ordered to pay restitution of $204,606.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan, with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.


Defense counsel: Thomas Young Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Camden

Updated March 18, 2015