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Press Release

Townsend Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing Over $200,000 in Government Benefits

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

BOSTON – Lucy Girard, 78, of Townsend, Mass., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Boston to stealing over $200,000 in Social Security and federal housing benefits.

In February 2016, Girard was charged in a felony information.  U.S. District Court Senior Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for June 1, 2016.

In 1994, Girard was listed as the informant of death on her mother’s death certificate when she passed away in Massachusetts.  Girard did not properly notify the Social Security Administration of her mother’s death so the agency continued to mail her monthly checks.  Although Girard was not entitled to this money, she routinely signed her late mother’s name on the back of the checks, cashed them, and spent the money.  In January 2009, the payments were converted to a monthly direct deposit into an account that Girard controlled, and she spent the money after it was deposited each month for her own personal benefit.  In 2014, in response to inquiries from Social Security, Girard falsely stated that her mother died very recently in Florida.  In total, from 1994 to 2014, Girard stole $208,868.

In 2014, Girard applied to live at housing subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Although the application directed Girard to disclose all of her income, she did not disclose the Social Security money that she was illegally receiving on behalf of her late mother.  Girard would have been ineligible for subsidized housing if she had disclosed that income.

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 the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted several similar cases involving a total of more than $1 million in stolen government money.

Last week, Brian Sandiford, of Jamaica Plain, was sentenced for stealing $70,811 from Social Security from 2010 to 2014.

On April 11, 2016, Richard Alan Hersey, of Winthrop, will be sentenced for stealing $444,287 in Social Security and federal pension benefits from 1991 to 2015.  Hersey pleaded guilty in November 2015.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration, 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.  The Girard case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Updated March 9, 2016