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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

St. Johnsbury Woman Sentenced For Social Security Fraud

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Bobbie Jo Austin, 35, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was sentenced on July 27, 2015, in United States District Court in Burlington, Vermont, to serve a two-year period of probation following her conviction on one count of converting Supplemental Security Income Benefits from the intended beneficiary, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1383a(a)(4). Judge William K. Sessions III also ordered Austin to pay $1,500 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.

According to court records and proceedings, in approximately 2008, BOBBIE JO AUSTIN applied to be the Representative Payee for Supplemental Security Income benefits for her child, who had been determined to be disabled. In agreeing to be the Representative Payee, BOBBIE JO AUSTIN agreed, among other things, to use the funds for the benefit of her minor child, and to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) if her minor child stopped living with her. The benefit payments started in June 2009. In May 2010, BOBBIE JO AUSTIN declared under penalty of perjury when she completed a Representative Payee Report that her minor child lived with her and of the $9,052.00 she had received for the child's care and support, she spent $4,800.00 on the child and $4,252.00 on living expenses and bills related to the child. In April 2011, BOBBIE JO AUSTIN declared under penalty of perjury when she completed a Representative Payee Report that her minor child lived with her and of the $8,712.00 she had received for the child's care and support, she spent the entire amount on the child. BOBBIE JO AUSTIN did not notify the SSA that the minor child was removed from her custody by the Vermont Department of Children and Families on May 29, 2009, and was ultimately adopted by another family on March 9, 2011.

“Making false statements to Social Security to fraudulently misuse Supplemental Security Income—a government payment intended to assist those truly in need—is an intolerable offense,” said Scott Antolik, Special Agent-in-Charge, SSA Office of Inspector General, Boston Field Division. “We will continue to partner with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont to pursue all forms of fraud against Social Security and its beneficiaries, especially instances of representative payee fraud that affect our most vulnerable citizens.”

United States Attorney Eric S. Miller commended the efforts of the SSA Office of Inspector General, Boston Field Division, in the investigation and prosecution of Austin. The prosecution of Austin was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara A. Masterson. Austin was represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth K. Quinn.

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Updated July 29, 2015