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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rochester Woman Pleads Guilty to Social Security Fraud


ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Ethel Whitaker (a/k/a Ethel Gainey), 73, of Rochester, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford, to theft of government funds. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa J. Miller, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant obtained social security numbers in the names of both “Ethel Whitaker” and “Ethel Gainey.” Whitaker then used both social security numbers to apply for and receive social security program benefits, including Supplemental Security Income, Survivor Insurance and Retirement Insurance. As a result of her conduct, between January 1997 and April 2011, the defendant received social security benefits in the amount of $119,675, to which she was not entitled.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Edward J. Ryan.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 9th, at 4:00 p.m. before Judge Wolford.
Updated November 21, 2014