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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Friday, June 6, 2014

Local Woman Admits Stealing $78K In Social Security Income Benefits

PITTSBURGH - A Pittsburgh resident pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of theft of government property, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Laverne Russell, 73, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Russell converted to her own use over $78,000 in Social Security Income Benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Judge Fischer scheduled sentencing for Oct. 15, 2014 at 9 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued bond pending sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Laverne Russell.

Updated July 14, 2015