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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 10, 2016

Muncie woman sentenced for stealing benefits meant for her children

Stole Social Security Disability Payments from her Disabled Son

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh Minkler today announced the sentence of a Muncie woman after being convicted for stealing nearly $200,000 in Social Security disability funds, public housing assistance, and food stamps, all of which were meant for her children.  Kimberly Harper, 55, was sentenced to 33 months (nearly three years) in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.

“For over 20 years, Harper did not raise or support her children,” said Minkler.  “Instead, she stole from them – including her son who was born with a severe mental disability.  This money was meant for the care of her children and she selfishly spent it on herself.”

Harper has four children, one of which struggles with a severe form of autism.  In the early 1990s, when her children were toddlers, she refused to care for them any longer and handed them off to her own parents, who ultimately raised the kids.  At the same time, she applied to the Social Security Administration for disability benefits on behalf of her autistic child.  But instead of using that money to support her son, as she was required to do, she spent it for herself. 

Later, she applied to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for public housing assistance and to the Indiana Family Social Services Administration for food stamps assistance.  Again, she falsely claimed that these benefits were for her children and instead received and spent the benefits for herself. 

In total, Harper stole nearly $200,000 in benefits that were meant for her children.  Her scheme lasted over 20 years.  And even when caught, she refused to admit her culpability.  After Harper’s mother died in 2013, her father, who was still caring for Harper’s disabled son, applied for Social Security disability benefits.  Just days after he finally convinced the Social Security office that he was the one caring for Harper’s son, Harper showed up to the office and pleaded that Social Security switch the payments back to her.  She claimed her son had always lived with her and had never been out of her care.  She knew these statements had been false for over 20 years.  She was sentenced accordingly.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Nick Linder, who prosecuted this case for the government, Harper must make full restitution and serve three years of supervised release after her sentence.

Updated June 10, 2016