St. George Woman Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Collecting over $93,000 in Deceased Mother’s Social Security Benefits
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Carol Philbin, 66, of St. George, Vermont, appeared today in federal district court in Burlington to answer to charges that, following her mother’s death in July 2009, Philbin unlawfully collected $93,345 in Social Security Administration benefits issued to her mother and used the money for her own expenses. The Information filed in the case covers the time-period between July 2009 and April 2014. United States District Court Judge Christina Reiss accepted Philbin’s guilty plea to the one count charged in the Information and released Philbin on conditions. Judge Reiss ordered Philbin to be back in U.S. District Court on February 11, 2019, for sentencing.
According to court documents, Carol Philbin was formerly Vice President for Personal Trusts at Merchant’s Bank and a trust officer before that at various other banks. Following her mother’s non-fatal stroke, Philbin served as Trustee for her mother’s estate during her mother’s lifetime. As such, Philbin was aware that her mother was receiving Social Security benefits while she was alive. When her mother died on July 2, 2009, Philbin knew that her responsibilities included notification to various parties, including the Social Security Administration. Philbin failed to notify the Social Security Administration of her mother’s death, despite being aware of her duty to so report. Instead, between July 2009 and April 2014, Philbin continued to receive the benefits issued to her mother and used the money for her own expenses. In total, Philbin unlawfully received and retained $93,345.00 in social security payments.
Philbin pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a department or agency of the United States, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2). Philbin faces up to five years of imprisonment, followed by up to three years of supervised release. Philbin further faces a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines. As part of her negotiated plea with the government, the government agreed to recommend a sentence of time served if Philbin pays $50,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration on or before sentencing and $43,345 in restitution in yearly installments over a period of three years.
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abigail Averbach. Carol Philbin is represented by Peter Langrock of Langrock Sperry & Wool of Burlington, Vermont.