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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

Friday, February 15, 2013

Huntsville Woman Sentenced To 10 Months In Prison For Stealing Children's Social Security Benefits

HUNTSVILLE – A federal judge Thursday sentenced a Huntsville woman to 10 months in prison for stealing government property by claiming Social Security benefits for children who did not live with her and spending the money on herself, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Social Security, Office of Inspector General, Resident Agent in Charge Guy Fallen.

DIANE CUTTS OATES, 49, pleaded guilty in October to one count of theft of government property. U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre imposed the prison sentence and ordered Oates to pay more than $38,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. She is scheduled to report to prison March 24.

Oates had two children who lived with their father in Tennessee, and the father had custody of the children. Oates applied for child benefits in December 2009 and falsely stated that she and the two children lived together in the same house. Oates received $17,412 in back payments for the children and benefit checks for three more months for a total $38,328 from Social Security.

Oates used deceit to receive Social Security benefits which rightfully belonged to her children, according to the government’s sentencing memorandum. “The defendant’s actions were the height of arrogance and selfishness. These public funds have been put aside to protect citizens from falling through the cracks. This money is not appropriated so a scoundrel like Diane Oates can use the public coffers as her own personal piggy bank,” the government said in its memorandum. “Her children were very much entitled to this money, but they were denied use of it due to their mother’s, this defendant’s, theft.”

The Social Security, OIG, and the U.S. Secret Service investigated this case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Terence M. O’Rourke prosecuted.

Updated March 19, 2015