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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 9, 2016

Children of Deceased Beneficiaries Admit Stealing Almost $300,000 from Social Security

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 9, 2016

SAN DIEGO – Pamela Anita Thomas of Lemon Grove and Darla Ann Ausman, formerly of Henderson, Nevada, pleaded guilty in unrelated cases this week to stealing Social Security benefits intended for their parents who had died years earlier.

According to court documents, Thomas’ father began receiving Social Security retirement benefits via direct deposit into his bank account in 1998.  Although her father died in November 2001, Thomas made no effort to notify the Social Security Administration that the beneficiary of these retirement benefits had passed away, or to cancel the direct deposit.  Over more than a decade, Thomas allowed an additional $170,000 in benefits to be deposited into her deceased father’s bank account, and then repeatedly transferred the money for her own personal use.

Similarly, Ausman’s mother began receiving Social Security retirement benefits via direct deposit into her bank account in 1996, and died in May 2007. Ausman also failed to notify the Social Security Administration that the retirement benefits were no longer warranted, and allowed over $120,000 in benefits to continue to be deposited directly into her deceased mother’s bank account.

Both defendants admitted knowing that their respective parent’s Social Security retirement benefits should not have continued to be paid after their deaths.

“By collecting benefits that did not belong to them, these defendants took money away from those who need it most – elderly retirees, people with severe illnesses and widows and children of deceased wage earners,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.  “This office will continue to investigate and prosecute fraud and waste in these important government programs.”

“The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General is committed to pursuing those who violate the public trust,” said Robb Stickley, the Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division, which is responsible for Southern California. “We will continue to uphold the integrity of Social Security’s benefit programs, which are a lifeline for so many Americans and their families.”

As a part of their plea agreements, Thomas and Ausman agreed to repay all the money that they stole from the Social Security Administration, but each still faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  Both were released on bail pending sentencing.

Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on February 27, 2017, before U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant.  Ausman is scheduled to be sentenced on February 17, 2017, before Chief U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz.

DEFENDANT                       Case Number 16cr2811-BAS                                  

Pamela Anita Thomas             Lemon Grove, CA

DEFENDANT                       Case Number 16cr2831-BTM                                 

Darla Ann Ausman                 Henderson, NV

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Theft of Public Property – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 641
Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine, restitution

INVESTIGATING AGENCY

Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
CAS16-1209-Thomas
Updated December 9, 2016