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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Taunton Woman Pleads Guilty to Social Security and Housing Assistance Fraud

BOSTON – A Taunton woman pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston today to concealing information and making false statements in order to receive Social Security disability benefits and Section 8 housing assistance to which she was not entitled.   

Marisha Ebanks, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of Supplemental Security Income fraud and one count of making false statements. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for Sept. 20, 2017. 

In 1999, Ebanks began receiving housing assistance payments from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program; and in January 2003, she began receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Eligibility for both Section 8 housing and SSI is based, in part, on the applicant having limited income and resources. In assessing a married individual’s eligibility for these benefits, the income of the applicant’s spouse is considered if they live together.

When Ebanks applied for SSI benefits in September 2002, she truthfully reported that she was married, but falsely stated that she and her husband had separated years prior, when, in fact, she and her husband were living together with their two children. SSA sent Ebanks annual reminders of her obligation to report any changes in her household composition, including any change in income of any household member, but Ebanks concealed her husband’s true residence.  During an eligibility redetermination with SSA in October 2010, Ebanks continued to report that she was married, but falsely stated her husband was not a member of her household.  

Similarly, in May 2002, in order to continue receiving Section 8 housing, Ebanks falsely reported that her husband had moved out of her residence. She repeatedly omitted her husband from the list of household members on recertification questionnaires in subsequent years, and she falsely stated that no member of her family received income from any employment, even though her husband was working. 

Ebanks fraudulently received approximately $70,655 in disability benefits and over $120,000 in Section 8 housing assistance benefits.

Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Adam Schneider, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; and Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office, made the announcement today. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Burzycki of Weinreb’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.

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Updated June 22, 2017