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Justice News

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

Monday, September 9, 2013

Renee Rachelle Voorhis Sentenced In U.S. District Court

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Helena, on September 9, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, RENEE RACHELLE VOORHIS, a 28-year-old resident of Billings, was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 18 months

Special Assessment: $100

Restitution: $80,185

Supervised Release: 3 years

VOORHIS was sentenced in connection with her guilty plea to Social Security fraud.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

VOORHIS was married to Nicholas Edgerley. VOORHIS and Edgerley had a child - A.E. in 2004. Edgerley died on June 17, 2005. On August 23, 2005, VOORHIS applied for Old Age Survivor Disability Insurance (OASDI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of her child. The application was based on the death of the child's father. VOORHIS also applied to serve as the child's representative payee for OASDI benefits. On September 2, 2005, the SSA awarded the child OASDI benefits and designated VOORHIS as the child's representative payee.

During the application process, the SSA advised VOORHIS of all of her legal obligations regarding events affecting eligibility to OASDI benefits for her child. VOORHIS was provided a written copy of her legal obligations. The SSA annually sent out correspondence again advising VOORHIS of each of her legal obligations with respect to her child's benefits. VOORHIS was required to and did complete annual accounting forms which were intended to account for how the OASDI benefits were used and to certify that her child was still in her care and custody.

On February 1, 2012, VOORHIS's father, told the SSA that he and his wife had been raising VOORHIS's child since October 2005 and were receiving no financial assistance from VOORHIS.

On February 14, 2012, VOORHIS's parents were interviewed by law enforcement. Both indicated they were aware their daughter was receiving OASDI benefits on her child's behalf. VOORHIS initially assisted them financially with the child's care - approximately four months, November 2005 to February 2006. On several occasions, they asked VOORHIS about receiving the child's OASDI benefits to aid in the child's care. VOORHIS threatened to remove the child from her parents custody when questioned about the OASDI benefits. VOORHIS's parents indicated that she was a drug addict and in and out of jail since the child began living with them.

On July 19, 2012, VOORHIS was interviewed by law enforcement. VOORHIS confessed that she knew her legal reporting obligations regarding collecting OASDI benefits on behalf of her child. VOORHIS confessed she initially gave four months of benefits to her parents and then stopped. VOORHIS stated that she used the funds to pay for her living expenses and to support her drug habit. VOORHIS confessed to concealing that she was not caring for or in custody of her child by falsifying and submitting SSA representative accounting forms in 2007 and 2008 to 2011.

The total overpayment by SSA to VOORHIS for her child was $82,730. The amount takes into account the four months of payments VOORHIS forwarded to her parents initially for the child's care.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that VOORHIS will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, VOORHIS does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Updated January 14, 2015