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Press Release

Columbus woman pleads guilty to Social Security fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Roxanne Bates, 52, of Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to one count of theft of public money, acknowledging that she took her mother’s Social Security benefits for almost eight years after her mother died.

According to court documents, Bates’ mother died in January 2012. Before she died, she was receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Those benefits should have ceased when she died, but the Social Security Administration was not notified of the death and continued to pay benefits totaling $146,143.

The benefits were deposited into a bank account controlled by Bates’ mother. On a regular basis, Bates knowingly and willfully stole the money by withdrawing it from the account using a debit card with her late mother’s name on it.

An audit by the Social Security’s Office of Inspector General detected the theft. Agents interviewed Bates in August 2020 and she acknowledged that she took money out of the account after her mother died.

Theft of public money is a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison, but the court will apply federal sentencing guidelines to determine an appropriate sentence. The plea agreement requires Bates to repay the money she stole.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General and the United States Secret Service cooperatively investigated this case.

Vipal J. Patel, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced the plea entered today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King. Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Landry is representing the United States in this case.

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Updated August 18, 2021

Financial Fraud