Five Western PA Residents Charged in Separate Schemes to Defraud the Social Security Administration
PITTSBURGH, PA – Five western Pennsylvania residents have been indicted separately by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and charged with various schemes to defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA), United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
"When criminals defraud the Social Security Administration, they are in effect stealing from the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens, who have worked hard and played by the rules their entire lives," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "Scammers beware: my office will continue to pursue and prosecute anyone who steals from our seniors in order to line their own pockets."
"I thank the U.S. Attorney for bringing these charges, and for his office’s support of our efforts to maintain the integrity of the Social Security system," said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General of Social Security. "Today’s announcement should serve as reminder that the SSA Office of Inspector General will vigorously pursue those individuals who intend to defraud SSA in any way. I also want to recognize the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office for working jointly with my office on investigations leading to some of the indictments being announced today."
A two-count indictment charges Leona Biser, 51, of Vestaburg, Pennsylvania, with representative payee fraud and Social Security fraud. According to the indictment presented to the Court, from October 2018 through September 2019, Biser was the representative payee for her sister. Biser failed to spend the payments for the benefit of her sister, and instead spent the funds on personal expenses. On January 15, 2020, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office charged Leona Biser with neglect of a care dependent person, abuse of a care dependent person, recklessly endangering another person, unlawful restraint, and false imprisonment for keeping her care dependent sister in a wooden cage with only a dirty mattress and little-to-no medical care. Biser is a fugitive from justice. Anyone with information is urged to contact the nearest USMS District Office, the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 1-800-336-0102, or submit a tip using USMS Tips.
A four-count Indictment charges Brenda Castro, 61, of Indiana, Pennsylvania, with theft of government property, Social Security fraud, and false statements to retain Social Security income. According to the indictment presented to the Court, from October 2009 through October 2017, Castro repeatedly falsely informed the SSA that she did not reside with her husband in order to continue to receive approximately $41,292.00 in SSA benefits to which she knew she was not entitled.
A three-count Indictment charges Julius Wilkerson, 47, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with theft of government property and false statements to retain Social Security income. According to the indictment presented to the Court, from October 2011 through November 2016, Wilkerson received approximately $30,699.00 in SSA benefits to which he knew he was not entitled.
A one-count Indictment charges William Moriarty, 68, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with theft of government property. According to the indictment presented to the Court, from August 2010 to May 2018, Moriarty received approximately $189,389.00 in SSA benefits to which he knew he was not entitled due to his employment.
A one-count Indictment charges Dawn Ann Treusch, 41, of Monaca, Pennsylvania, with theft of public money. According to the Indictment presented to the court, from January 2016 to July 2019, the defendant knowingly converted to her own use approximately $43,920.00 in Social Security Survivor’s Insurance Benefits of her grandmother, who had died in December 2015, and to which she knew she was not entitled.
For Castro, Wilkerson, Biser, Moriarty and Treusch, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar, Rachael L. Mamula and Benjamin J. Risacher are prosecuting these cases on behalf of the government
The United States Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General conducted the investigations leading to the indictments in these cases.
An indictment is an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.