Gardner Woman Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Receiving Disability Benefits and Food Stamps
BOSTON – A Gardner, Mass. woman pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Worcester to fraudulently receiving over $100,000 in public benefits.
Heidi Narcisse, 45, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of public money. Narcisse was charged in a felony Information in August 2015. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 9, 2015.
Narcisse began collecting Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits in 1999 and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in 2011. To be eligible for these benefits, a person must have very limited income and financial resources, and a person’s spouse’s income can make a person financially ineligible for benefits. In order to receive these benefits, Narcisse repeatedly and falsely stated that she was separated from her husband, lived alone with her children, and had no outside support. In reality, in July 2006, Narcisse and her husband bought a house together in Gardner, listed that house as their residential address on their respective driver’s licenses, and filed joint tax returns listing the same address. In addition, Narcisse’s husband, who had income from his job, regularly gave Narcisse money for household expenses. If Narcisse had truthfully reported her living situation and her husband’s financial support, she would not have been eligible to receive the SSI and SNAP benefits. From 2006 to 2014, Narcisse illegally received $100,512 in SSI benefits, and from 2011 to 2015 she received $17,012 in SNAP benefits.
The charge of theft of public money provides a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution. 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; and Suzanne M. Bump, State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.