NEW ORLEANS WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO THEFT OF SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
MARGUERITE JOHNSTON, age 52, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty today in federal court before U. S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle to a one-count Bill of Information for theft of government funds. announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, between January 2007 and May 2009, JOHNSTON received Social Security benefits paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to her son and had them deposited in her bank account, as his representative payee, even though he had passed away in January and was no longer entitled to receive benefits. She then used the funds for her own gain and benefit. JOHNSTON also received benefits from SSA in her own name as the mother of a disabled child, since her son was himself disabled. She was no longer entitled to these benefits, either, after he passed away in January 2007. Though obligated to do so, JOHNSTON never notified SSA that her son had passed away. In total, JOHNSTON received government benefits to which she was not entitled after her son’s death in the amount of $49,863.
JOHNSTON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten (10) years, a $250,0000 fine, and one (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Sentencing has been scheduled for November 17, 2010.
The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org