EAST ALTON WOMAN SENTENCED TO 14 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR STEALING DISABLED DAUGHTER’S SOCIAL SECURITY FUNDS
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – An East Alton, Illinois, woman was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison
for stealing her disabled daughter’s Social Security funds. The sentencing hearing was conducted
this morning in Federal Court in East St. Louis, Illinois.
The Social Security Administration administers the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
program. SSI provides a minimum level of income to aged, blind, and disabled individuals who have
limited resources. Disabled children are eligible to receive SSI benefits. For children, SSI
benefits are paid to a representative payee, who is responsible for handling the funds and
reporting to the Social Security Administration. Federal law requires that all SSI funds must be
used for the benefit of the disabled child.
According to court documents, Melissa D. Wasylak, 49, applied for her disabled daughter
to receive SSI benefits. Wasylak was appointed as her daughter’s representative payee. In
2008, Wasylak’s daughter stopped living with her and went to live with Wasylak’s ex-husband.
Despite this fact, Wasylak continued to receive her daughter’s SSI funds. As part of
her guilty plea, Wasylak admitted that she did not use those funds for her daughter’s expenses,
but instead used the SSI monies to pay her own personal expenses. This continued until the
situation was reported to the Social Security Administration in May of 2019.
In addition to the 14 month prison term, the court also ordered Wasylak to serve a two year period
of supervised release following her release from prison. The court further ordered Wasylak to pay
$58,345 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.
The case was investigated by the St. Louis Office of the Social Security Administration – Office of
the Inspector General.
Assistant United States Attorney Scott Verseman prosecuted the case.
Updated October 29, 2021