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Press Release

Upton Woman Sentenced for Defrauding Federal Benefits Programs

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

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

Patricia Kwiatkowski, 64, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to two years of probation, including three months of home or community confinement, and ordered to pay restitution of $128,101 to the Social Security Administration and $2,391 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  In June 2015, Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to stealing public money.

Kwiatkowski’s father died in 2006, but the father’s 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.  She also made more than 150 ATM withdrawals from the account, and spent money from the account at retail stores.  In total, from 2006 to 2014, Kwiatkowski received and spent $128,101 in Social Security funds to which she was not entitled.

During the entire time that she was removing Social Security benefits from her late father’s account, Kwiatkowski was also receiving her own Social Security benefits of about $1,000 per month.  In addition, she began receiving food stamps in 2009, MassHealth benefits in 2011, and subsidized housing in 2013.  In 2013 and 2014, she provided false information on her applications for subsidized housing.

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:

In April 2015, Graeme Griffith, of Andover, was sentenced for stealing $149,285 from Social Security from 2003 to 2014.

Also in April 2015, Frances Kenney Moseley, of Boston, was sentenced for stealing $222,172 from Social Security from 2003 to 2010.

In February 2015, Charles Gerbutavich, of Manchester, was sentenced for stealing $161,587 from Social Security from 1993 to 2014.

In October 2014, Mary Murphy, of Dorchester, was sentenced for stealing $206,679 from Social Security and $143,098 from the Civil Service Retirement System from 1977 to 2013.

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 was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Updated February 4, 2016