D.C. Woman Sentenced to 32 Months in Prison For Stealing Government Benefit Funds
Defendant Took Vulnerable Adults' Money for Her Own Benefit
WASHINGTON – Rosemary Ogbenna, 46, of the District of Columbia, was sentenced today to 32 months in prison for felony charges relating to her scheme to steal more than $400,000 in government benefit funds, provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), intended for the care and benefit of government beneficiaries.
Ogbenna pleaded guilty on June 28, 2022, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to charges of mail fraud and false statements. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden ordered 36 months of supervised release and ordered Ogbenna to pay restitution in the amount of $523,696. He also ordered forfeiture in the same amount. Her sentences on the two counts were ordered to run concurrently.
The sentence was announced today by United States Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill, of the Social Security Administration (SSA) - Office of Inspector General (OIG), Philadelphia Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Kim Lampkins, of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) - Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Mid-Atlantic Field Office, and Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Christy Goldsmith Romero.
According to the facts admitted in her guilty plea, Ogbenna perpetrated a scheme in which she obtained and used SSA and VA benefit funds – which were intended for the care of elderly, mentally ill, disabled, and veteran beneficiaries – for her own personal use and benefit. According to Court documents, Ogbenna stole more than $400,000 in government benefits funds intended for the benefit of others who had been tenants of her rooming house business.
The Social Security Administration administers benefit programs under federal law, including the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (“OASDI”) program, which provides monthly benefit funds to qualified retired and disabled workers and their dependents, and to survivors of insured workers. Eligibility and benefit amounts under this program are determined by a worker’s contributions to Social Security. Under another program, qualifying individuals receive monthly benefit funds under the Supplemental Security Income for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (“SSI”) and related programs.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs serves the needs of American veterans, including providing monthly government benefit funds through its Veterans Benefits Administration.
As Ogbenna admitted in Court documents, she carried out a scheme between at least March 19, 2009 and February 23, 2020, in which she obtained and maintained control over SSA benefit funds for some tenants of her rooming house business by becoming the Representative Payee of their SSA benefit funds. Although a Representative Payee has a duty to use SSA benefits solely on behalf of the beneficiary, Ogbenna used a portion of those funds for her own personal use and benefit. Ogbenna also gained control over some tenants’ monthly VA benefits and used a portion of those VA benefit funds for her personal use and benefit without authority. In addition, Ogbenna made false statements to agents investigating the fraud scheme, claiming she had paid back a beneficiary for using their intended funds when she had not.
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) - Office of Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) - Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Lucas of the Fraud, Public Corruption, and Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, prosecuted the case, supported by Financial Analyst Bryan Snitselaar and former Paralegal Specialist Chad Byron, and Paralegal Specialists Mariela Andrade, Daniel Haines, and Lisa Abbe.