Toms river, new jersey woman pleads guilty to stealing veterans Benefits intended for her mother-In-Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2011
TRENTON, N.J. – A Toms River, N.J., woman admitted today to stealing, over an eight-year period, more than $114,000 in Department of Veterans Affairs benefits checks that were intended for her mother-in-law, who was deceased, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Linda Mittelsdorf, 59, pleaded guilty to an Indictment charging her with one count of converting public money to her own use. Mittelsdorf entered her guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Mittelsdorf’s mother-in-law was receiving dependency and indemnity compensation benefit payments of more than $1,000 per month from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at the time of her death in September 2002. Mittelsdorf admitted that she did not notify the VA of her mother-in-law’s death, but instead signed the deceased woman’s name on the benefit checks and deposited them into her own bank account.
Mittelsdorf also admitted that she instructed the VA to change the address to which they sent payments to an address in Bayville, N.J., in October 2003, and a post office box in Pine Beach, N.J., in May 2006. She continued to receive the checks and deposit them by forging her mother-in-law’s signature until she was caught in April 2010. Mittelsdorf admitted that she took the money for her personal use.
At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the offense. In addition, Judge Wolfson will order Mittelsdorf to make restitution to the VA. Sentencing is scheduled for September 16, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Field Office Jeffrey G. Hughes, for the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott B. McBride of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit.
Defense counsel: John H. Yauch, Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark, N.J.