Skip to main content
Press Release

Philadelphia Woman Sentenced For Stealing Dead Husband's Benefits

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA - Shirley Goldwire, 68, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for two counts of theft of government funds and was ordered to pay $264,021 in restitution to the government. She pleaded guilty on April 20, 2015 to two counts of conversion of government funds.


From 1998 through 2012, Goldwire stole retirement benefits intended for her husband by forging his name on checks tied to his bank account and by creating a false power of attorney over her dead husband’s affairs.  In addition, the defendant stole benefits intended for a friend of her ex-husband, who was also deceased.  The defendant obtained this money by using a debit card tied to the account.


The Social Security Administration discovered the defendant’s fraud through its Centenarian Project, a project in which Social Security field office employees attempt personal contact with beneficiaries, who are at or around 100 years of age, to verify that they are alive and receiving their benefits. When the Social Security Administration began investigating whether Goldwire’s husband was alive, the defendant lied.  She also had her son impersonate her dead husband via a phone call to a Social Security employee on two separate occasions.  The defendant’s actions resulted in a loss to the government of $264,021.             


The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Amanda R. Reinitz.

Updated February 4, 2016