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Press Release

Pennsylvania Woman Charged With Stealing $160,000 In Social Security Benefits, Federal Student Financial Aid

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. – An Allentown, Pennsylvania, woman was arrested this morning for allegedly stealing $136,879.24 in social security benefits and over $23,000 in federal student financial aid, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Martha Aguilar, 56, a former resident of Middletown, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with one count each of theft of government funds, social security fraud, false statements in furtherance of social security fraud, and student loan fraud. She will appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni in Trenton federal court.

According to the indictment:

From November 2004 to January 2015, Aguilar collected approximately $136,879.24 in social security benefits that she was not entitled to receive. During that time, Aguilar indicated in forms to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that she was completely disabled and unable to work.  

However, Aguilar regularly worked during that 10-year time period as a paralegal for various law firms and attorneys. Aguilar also fraudulently applied for and received temporary disability from the state of New Jersey totaling $13,622 and unemployment benefits from the state of New Jersey totaling $103,738, all of which she concealed from the SSA. Overall, Aguilar failed to report over $470,000 in benefits and income she received from November 2004 to January 2015.  

In addition, Aguilar falsified her son's applications for federal student financial aid by indicating she had no income other than social security benefits. As a result, her son was given $23,195 in federal financial aid that he was not entitled to receive.    

The theft of government funds count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false statement and social security fraud counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The student loan fraud count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.  

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the SSA, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of John F. Grasso; the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General Eastern Regional Office, under the direction of Assistant Special Agent in Charge Debbi Mayer; and the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Division of Fraud Prevention & Risk Management-Special Investigations Unit, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Meriah Russell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated August 14, 2018

Labor & Employment
Press Release Number: 18-270