New Jersey Man Admits Stealing Deceased Father's Social Security Checks for 22 Years

Date: 
Monday, April 29, 2013
Office Affiliation: 

CAMDEN, N.J. – A south Jersey man who hid his father’s death from authorities to keep his Social Security payments admitted today to stealing more than $200,000 in retirement savings benefits paid out to the deceased, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Michael Shelton, 65, of Pennsauken, N.J., entered a guilty plea to an Information charging him with one count of theft of government funds, before Chief U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Shelton admitted that when his father died in March of 1990, he intentionally did not notify the Social Security Administration (SSA), as he was obligated to do, so that he could continue to receive his father’s SSA retirement checks. The SSA discovered the death in June of 2012, at which time the deceased was receiving $977 in monthly retirement benefits.

After his father had died, Shelton set up a direct deposit for the checks into a PNC Bank account in his father’s name. Shelton acknowledged he accessed that account at various times and used the money to pay for personal expenses.

Shelton admitted that, from March 1990 to July 2012, he collected approximately $204,606 to which he was not entitled.

The charge to which Shelton pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 1, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.