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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 9, 2016

Fall River Woman Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft and Theft of Social Security Benefits

BOSTON – A Jamaican citizen living in Fall River pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with using her sister’s identity to enter the United States and collect over $140,000 in Social Security benefits.

Sandra McDonald, 51, a Jamaican citizen living in Fall River, pleaded guilty to passport fraud, two counts of theft of public money and misrepresenting a Social Security number.  U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled sentencing for Dec. 20, 2016.  McDonald has been held in custody since her arrest in May 2016. 

McDonald was born in Jamaica.  In 1990, McDonald obtained a U.S. resident alien card under her sister’s name, but with her own photograph and fingerprint on the card.  Shortly after entering the United States under her sister’s identity, McDonald obtained a Social Security card, also in her sister’s name.  In 1996, McDonald applied for Social Security Supplemental Security Income benefits under her sister’s identity, and to date she has received more than $140,000 in benefits illegally.  McDonald also illegally received nearly $30,000 in MassHealth benefits under her sister’s identity.

In addition, McDonald used a second woman’s identity to apply for a passport in 2008, and a third woman’s identity to obtain a driver’s license in 2012.   

The charges of passport fraud and theft of public money each provide for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.  The charge of misrepresenting a Social Security number provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.            

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; Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; David W. Hall, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Boston Field Office; Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations; Suzanne M. Bump, State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated September 9, 2016