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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dorchester Woman Sentenced For Theft Of Government Benefits

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BOSTON – A Dorchester woman was sentenced today for stealing more than a quarter million dollars in government benefits to which she was not entitled.

Mary Murphy, 63, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris to 18 months of home confinement, 10 hours per week of community service, and was ordered to pay $331,630 in restitution and a fine of $40,000. In July 2014, Murphy pleaded guilty to stealing public money in the form of Social Security and Civil Service Retirement annuity payments paid out for the benefit of her mother.

Following the death of Murphy’s mother in 1977, Murphy, who was not herself entitled to the money, continued to receive and spend the benefits for over 30 years. Murphy stole over $200,000 in Social Security benefits and $140,000 in Civil Service Retirement System annuity payments intended for her mother. Upon discovering the theft, the government reclaimed a portion of the funds from Murphy’s bank account and Murphy repaid the balance, $331,630, at her sentencing today.

This case was brought as part of an ongoing effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Social Security Administration to investigate and prosecute the posthumous fraud of Social Security benefits. In many of these cases, family members, knowing they are not entitled to government benefits, continue to withdraw and spend the funds after a relative has died.

In October 2014, Richard Oldham of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, was sentenced to four months in prison, six months of home confinement, and ordered to pay $195,862 in restitution for endorsing Social Security checks in his deceased mother’s name following her death in 1993.

In September 2014, Frances Kenney Moseley of Boston, pleaded guilty to stealing over $220,000 in Social Security benefits, which were directly deposited into her father’s bank account after his death in 2003. Moseley is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 22, 2014.

In August 2014, George Bergstrom of Shrewsbury, was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $57,948 in restitution – which he paid in full in August – for taking his deceased mother’s Social Security benefits, which were directly deposited into a joint bank account after her death in 2009.

In October 2013, John Flaherty of Newburyport, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and was ordered to pay $168,830 in restitution for taking his deceased mother’s Social Security benefits, which were directly deposited into a joint bank account after her death in 1993.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division, and Scott Rezendes, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General, Field Operations, made the announcement today. The Murphy case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

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Updated December 15, 2014