Laurel Woman Sentenced For Stealing Social Security Benefit Checks
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Yolando Guerrero, age 59, of Laurel, Maryland today to a year and a day in prison followed by three years of supervised release for theft of government property. Judge Messitte also entered an order that Guerrero pay restitution of $335,197.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration (SSA) - Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division; and Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
According to her plea agreement, Guerrero lived with an individual, who she considered to be her adopted mother, in Silver Spring, Maryland. The individual received social security retirement benefits. A few months before the individual’s death on October 17, 1994, Guerrero became the individual’s representative payee, and was required to spend the individual’s social security benefits on the individual’s behalf, and to report the individual’s death.
Instead, Guerrero failed to report the individual’s death in numerous forms that she filed with the SSA subsequent to the individual’s death. Law enforcement interviewed Guerrero on October 22, 2013. Guerrero initially claimed that the individual was still alive, but later in the interview admitted that the individual had died many years prior. From October 1994 to October 2013, Guerrero admitted that she cashed a total of $335,197 in SSA checks that had been mailed to the individual, and used the money for her own benefit, including payment of her rent, taxes, car insurance, and to raise her children and grandchildren.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Social Security Administration - OIG and HSI Baltimore for their work in the investigation, and thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul K. Nitze, who prosecuted the case.