Effingham Woman Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements to Obtain Social Security Benefits
CONCORD – Valerie Rondeau, 59, of Effingham pleaded guilty in federal court to making false statements to obtain Social Security disability benefits, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Rondeau received Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits for over 16 years prior to her marriage in May 2013. Rondeau continued to receive these benefits after she wed, but Rondeau did not report her marriage or her shared living arrangement to the Social Security Administration. Instead, Rondeau took active steps to conceal her marriage and living arrangement. For example, Rondeau changed her last name to that of her husband, writing in the petition “we live as a married couple.” But, when Social Security inquired about the name change, Rondeau advised Social Security that she was not married and does not present herself as married. Rondeau continued to conceal her marriage and living arrangement until November 2017, when she admitted to investigators that she did not obtain a marriage license or report her marriage to Social Security because she knew she could lose her disability benefits.
Rondeau’s marriage or shared living arrangement, if properly reported, would have disqualified her from receiving benefits. Applicants for certain disability benefits must have limited income and resources in order to qualify for assistance. The incomes of all members of a household are considered when determining an individual’s eligibility for SSI benefits. As a result of her concealment, Rondeau received over $37,000 in disability benefits that she was not entitled to receive.
Rondeau is scheduled to be sentenced on February 14, 2019.
“Social Security and other government programs provide important income support for those who are entitled to receive benefits,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “Those who attempt to defraud the system by lying in order to obtain benefits are committing a serious federal crime. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify fraudsters and protect the integrity of federal benefit programs.”
Scott Antolik, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General’s Boston Field Division said, “Rondeau’s lies and deceitful conduct undermined the integrity of a system that provides cash assistance and health care coverage to people with low-income and limited assets who are either aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled. I thank our partners with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Attorney Murray for their assistance in bringing Rondeau to justice and helping to protect the safety net program that provides benefits to approximately eight million Americans each year. “
“Today’s plea is an example of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s commitment to defend the U.S. Mail from criminal misuse,” said U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Inspector in Charge, Joseph W. Cronin, Boston Division. “By working with our federal law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and take action against those who take part in this type of behavior.”
This matter was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Hunter.