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FITCHBURG WOMAN ORDERED TO REPAY $25,000 IN STOLEN BENEFITS

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2010

BOSTON, MA - A Fitchburg woman was sentenced today in federal court for defrauding the Social Security Administration of benefits intended for her children.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and John Grasso, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, Office of Investigations - Boston Field Division, announced today that CRYSTAL SURETT, age 29, of Fitchburg, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor, IV to three years of probation. As a condition of probation, SURETT was ordered to pay $25,332.50 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. Her failure to repay could expose to a charge of violating probation, and jail. SURETT pled guilty to Social Security Fraud on September 25, 2009.

At the earlier plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that had the case proceeded to trial the Government’s evidence would have proven that SURETT was the representative payee of benefits for her three minor children and, as such, was authorized to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration on their behalf. SURETT was also obligated to notify the Social Security Administration if there were any change in the living situation of any or all of her children. In October 2007, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Children removed SURETT’s children from her home and that SURETT failed to notify the Social Security Administration of the change in the custody of her children, with the intent to continue to receive benefits as the representative payee of them. SURETT collected over $25,000 in unauthorized benefits intended for her children, and spent the money on entertainment, meals and retail purchases for herself.

The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations of the Social Security Administration. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hennessy of Ortiz’s Worcester Branch Office Unit.


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