Former California Public Defender Pleads Guilty to Stealing Social Security Benefits

Date: 
Friday, March 28, 2014
Office Affiliation: 

 Article from The Press Enterprise here

A deputy public defender for Riverside County pleaded guilty Monday, March 3, to two felony counts of stealing Social Security benefits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Audrey Owens, 60, of Upland, entered the guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips one week before her trial was expected to start.

A federal grand jury charged her in July with illegally collecting more than $129,000 in Social Security benefits meant for her grandmother.

After the grandmother’s death in May 2000, Owens changed the address of a joint account and continued to collect the elderly woman’s Social Security deposits and used the money to pay for personal expenses, including contributions to the Riverside County Employee Campaign. No plea agreement was offered in the case.

Sentencing was set for June 2. Owens faces 20 years in federal prison.