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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 18, 2021

Former Syracuse-Based Social Security Administration Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Property and Aggravated Identity Theft

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Sean Okrzesik, age 34, of Syracuse, pled guilty today to charges of theft of government property and aggravated identity theft.  

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and John F. Grasso, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Office.

The charges relate to Okrzesik’s use of the names and Social Security numbers of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries or their representative payees in order to steal SSI benefit payments.  Okrzesik’s conduct occurred while he was employed in the Syracuse District Office of the Social Security Administration (SSA).  SSI is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenue. The program is designed to help the elderly and people with disabilities, with little or no income, cover the costs of basic needs.

As part of his guilty plea, Okrzesik admitted that from February 2020 through February 2021, he opened bank accounts using the names and Social Security numbers of various SSI beneficiaries or their representative payees.  Okrzesik also admitted that once these accounts had been created, he would divert SSI benefit payments intended for these beneficiaries into the accounts, which he then used to pay personal expenses including the purchase of video gaming equipment, a custom suit, jewelry, airline tickets to the Caribbean, and online gambling.  The total amount of SSI benefits stolen by Okrzesik was $103,798.77.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 16, 2022, in Utica, before United States District Judge David N. Hurd.  On the two counts of theft of government property, Okrzesik faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised of up to 3 years.  On the aggravated identity theft count, Okrzesik faces a mandatory term of two years in federal prison which must run consecutively to the sentence imposed on the other counts of conviction.

A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

This case was investigated by the SSA Office of the Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated November 18, 2021