Former Bank Teller Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Social Security Funds From Deceased Customer’s Account
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Jonnel Perkins, 43, of Philadelphia, PA, pleaded guilty to the charge of embezzlement by a bank employee.
According to court documents filed today, the defendant was employed as a Retail Relationship Banker at a bank located in Philadelphia. While she was employed in this position, the Social Security Administration (SSA) conducted a routine audit which identified that a customer of the bank branch where Perkins worked was likely deceased but still receiving monthly electronic benefits from the SSA. The SSA suspended the payments to this account, but due to regulation had to wait seven years before the approximately $200,000 in accumulated benefit overpayments by the SSA could be reclaimed.
In the months prior to the time when the reclamation could be initiated, between June and December 2019, Perkins withdrew all of the funds from this dormant account. A subsequent investigation determined that the customer whose account from which the defendant withdrew funds had been deceased since 1999. In total, Perkins plead guilty to embezzling $207,450 from the deceased customer’s account. With the embezzled funds, the defendant made large cash deposits into her personal bank accounts as well as large cash deposits at casinos in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, totaling over $200,000.
“Bank employees are trusted by their customers and employers to handle money with honesty and integrity,” said Acting U. S. Attorney Williams. “Here, the defendant stole hundreds of thousands of dollars while she was employed in a position of trust at a bank which managed the deceased victim’s account. Our Office will continue to investigate and prosecute this type of fraud in order to protect individual bank account holders and all American taxpayers who pay into the Social Security system.”
“We will continue to pursue those who would misuse Social Security funds for personal gain, particularly those in positions of trust,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “I want to thank the FBI for their partnership, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its efforts to bring the charges that led to today’s guilty plea.”
“Jonnel Perkins stole money from someone she figured would never miss it,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “In draining that deceased customer’s account, though, she was ripping off the Social Security Administration and those actually entitled to its benefits. The FBI and our federal partners won’t stand for criminals cheating the U.S. government and the millions of taxpayers who fund it.”
The case was investigated the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Megan Curran.