Effingham Woman Sentenced to Five Years of Probation for Making False Statements to Obtain Social Security Benefits
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Hampshire
CONCORD – Valerie Rondeau, 59, of Effingham was sentenced to five years of probation for 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 previously pleaded guilty on November 6, 2019. In addition to probation, the court ordered that Rondeau pay full restitution of $37,879.
“Federal benefit programs are designed to provide assistance to those who truly need financial help,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “In order to protect the integrity of these programs, we work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who use fraud to obtain benefits that they are not entitled to receive.”
“By prosecuting offenders like Rondeau, we deliver a strong message that this type of fraud won’t be tolerated,” said Adam D. Schneider, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Social Security OIG’s Boston Field Division. “Today’s sentencing should serve as a warning to those who choose to selfishly defraud the Social Security Administration. These cases are vigorously pursued, and we will continue to work jointly with the U.S. Attorney, and other law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute fraud perpetrators in the future. I strongly encourage the public to report suspected instances of Social Security fraud to the SSA OIG’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or http://oig.ssa.gov/report.”
“Today’s sentencing demonstrates the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s commitment to combat fraud,” said U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Inspector in Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the 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 was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Hunter.
Updated February 14, 2019
Press Release Number: 19-013