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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 12, 2015

Upton Woman Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Federal Benefits Programs

BOSTON – An Upton, Mass. woman pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Worcester to stealing more than $128,000 in Social Security benefits and providing false information in applications for subsidized housing.

Patricia Kwiatkowski, 64, pleaded guilty to stealing public money and making false statements.  U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman schedule sentencing for Sept. 8, 2015. In May 2015, Kwiatkowski was charged in a felony Information.

Kwiatkowski’s father died in 2006, but his monthly Social Security benefits continued to be directly deposited into his bank account.  Although she was not entitled to this money, Kwiatkowski signed her late father’s name on more than 100 checks written from his account to pay her own bills and also made ATM withdrawals from the account.  In total, from 2006 to 2014, Kwiatkowski received and spent $128,101 in Social Security funds to which she was not entitled.

In addition, in 2013, Kwiatkowski applied to live at Upsala Elder Apartments in Worcester in a unit subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  On the application, she falsified her prior year’s income by failing to list the Social Security money that she was illegally receiving from her late father’s bank account.  In 2014, Kwiatkowski made other false statements on her application to live in a HUD-subsidized unit in the Milhaus Apartments in Upton.

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.

One of the ways the Social Security Administration detects this kind of fraud is through the Medicare Non-Utilization Project, in which the agency investigates people receiving benefits who are at least 90 years old and who have not used their Medicare Part B benefits for three or more years.  In some instances, the agency learns that such a person is actually deceased, but a surviving child has continued to take the deceased person’s benefits.

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.

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 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 Kwiatkowski case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

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Updated June 12, 2015