Former Rocky Hill Resident Charged with Stealing Social Security Benefits
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury in Bridgeport has returned an indictment charging MARYANNE STEPHENS, 68, of Ireland, formerly of Rocky Hill, Conn., with bank fraud, theft of public money, and aggravated identity theft offenses stemming from a scheme to steal Social Security retirement benefits that had been deposited into her deceased mother-in-law’s bank account.
The indictment was returned on September 18, 2012, and was unsealed on April 20, 2016, when STEPHENS was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. STEPHENS appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam in New Haven and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.
STEPHENS’ mother-in-law died in October 1998. The indictment alleges that from approximately March 2004 to December 2010, STEPHENS forged the signature of her mother-in-law on bank checks in order to fraudulently obtain funds held in her mother-in-law’s bank account, including Social Security retirement benefits that were deposited into the account after STEPHENS’ mother-in-law had died.
Approximately $200,000 in Social Security benefits were deposited into STEPHEN’s mother-in-law’s bank account after she died.
If convicted, STEPHENS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years for bank fraud, a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years for theft of public money, and a mandatory, consecutive two-year term of imprisonment for aggravated identity theft.
STEPHENS has surrendered her passport and is released on a $200,000 bond.
U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj N. Patel.