From the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Kansas:
WICHITA – A woman who continued to receive her grandmother’s Social Security payments after the grandmother died was sentenced Monday to 45 months in federal prison, U. S. Attorney Tom Beall said.
Verlarina Ruth Collins, 49, Wichita, pleaded guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration (SSA) between 2007 and 2013 of more than $40,000 and to aggravated identity theft in connection with the fraud. In addition, Collins was ordered to repay money she stole.
Collins was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren, who sentenced Collins to 21 months on the fraud charge and a statutorily required 24 months on the aggravated identity theft charge. By law, the terms must run consecutively.
Because the grandmother was receiving the benefits on her late husband’s Social Security account as his survivor, the SSA did not connect her death to her husband’s account and continued to make the payments, which Collins converted to her own use.
Beall praised the SSA’s Office of Inspector General for its investigation of the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for his prosecution.