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Press Release

Chelsea Woman Sentenced for False Claims and Stealing Benefits from Three Minor Children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma

TULSA, Okla. – A Chelsea woman was sentenced today to 6 months in prison for one count of conversion of benefits by representative payee and one count of making a false statement, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

U.S. District Judge John F. Heil, III, sentenced Arvella Evyon Downing, 55, to 6 months followed by 3 years of supervised release. Judge Heil further ordered Downing to pay $28,368 in restitution.

“Downing not only abused her position as a guardian, but she also stole
thousands of dollars in social security benefits from children,” said U.S. Attorney Clint J. Johnson.

According to court documents, Downing pled guilty on Mar. 3, 2023. She admitted from on or about Oct. 1, 2019, through on or about Sept. 30, 2020, that she made application to receive social security benefits on behalf of 3 minor children. She received approximately $28,368 and claimed that she spent it on housing, clothing, education, medical and dental expenses, recreation, or personal items.

In a related indictment, Downing’s boyfriend, Keith Alan Schulze pled guilty on Mar. 3, 2023, to child neglect in Indian Country and will be sentenced at a later date.

Arvella Evyon Downing was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI and the Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron M. Jolly and Steven Briden prosecuted the case.


Public Affairs

Updated November 1, 2023