News and Press Releases

Harrisburg Mother And Grandmother Indicted And Charged With Social Security Fraud And Theft Of Government Funds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2013

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Oriana Merino, age 31 and Raquel Cuni, age 65, both of Harrisburg, were indicted Wednesday and charged with theft of government funds and social security fraud.

     According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, from March 2010 to May 2013, Merino and Cuni received Supplemental Security Income and disability benefit payments as Representative Payees for their son/grandson and used the money for themselves. The child had been removed from the home and transferred to the custody of Dauphin County Children and Youth Services. 

     This case is being investigated by Social Security Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daryl F. Bloom.

     Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

     A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

     In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 15 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

 

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