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Press Release

St. Petersburg Man Pleads Guilty To Theft Of Government Funds

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

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Michael Cornell (53, St. Petersburg) today pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, Cornell’s mother was the recipient of Social Security benefits. She died on February 2, 2010, and all of her benefits ended upon her death. The Social Security Administration did not receive notice of her death and, until October 2013, monthly benefit checks continued to be sent to a post office box that Cornell shared with his mother. Cornell forged his mother’s signature and deposited the checks into a bank account that they shared. He then transferred the funds to a personal account for his use. The total amount paid out after his mother’s death was $44,448. Of that, the SSA was able to recover $12,440 from Cornell’s bank accounts.

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam M. Saltzman.

Updated April 28, 2015