Patricia Hodges, 65, of Marietta, Ohio pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of theft of government money for concealing her mother’s death in order to continue receiving her mother’s Social Security benefits.
Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Elias Papoulias, Resident Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, announced the plea entered today before Senior U.S. District Judge George C. Smith.
According to testimony in today’s hearing by an agent with the Social Security Inspector General, a Social Security Administration official interviewed Hodges at her Marietta home in November 2011. Hodges claimed her mother was on a cruise and planned to live with a niece in New York after the cruise.
Further investigation by the Social Security Administration and Marietta Police concluded that Hodges’ mother had died in 1997 and that Hodges had buried her mother’s body in the back yard of a house in Lake Worth, Florida where they had lived. Florida law enforcement investigators recovered the skeletal remains of Hodges’ mother.
Hodges admitted that she concealed her mother’s death in order to collect $141,962 in Social Security benefits she was not entitled to receive between 1997 and October 2011.
Theft of government money is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Restitution can also be ordered as part of the sentence.
Judge Smith will schedule a date for sentencing. Hodges remains free on bond.
Individuals who want to report suspected cases of can contact the Social Security Office of Inspector General’s Fraud Hotline, 1-800-269-0271, or complete an online fraud reporting form at www.socialsecurity.gov under the “Useful Links” tab.
Stewart commended the investigation by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General and the Marietta Police, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale E. Williams Jr., who is representing the United States in the case.