Former Connecticut Woman Sentenced to Prison for Deceased Payee Fraud

Date: 
Friday, March 3, 2017
Office Affiliation: 

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MARYANNE STEPHENS, 69, of Ireland, formerly of Rocky Hill, Conn., was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to three months of imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release, for stealing Social Security retirement benefits that had been deposited into her deceased mother-in-law’s bank account. Chief Judge Hall also ordered STEPHENS to perform 75 hours of community service while on supervised release, and to pay restitution to the Social Security Administration.

According to court documents and statements made in court, STEPHENS’ mother-in-law began receiving Social Security retirement benefits in 1971. Her mother-in-law died in October 1998. However, approximately $204,000 in Social Security retirement benefits were directly deposited into her mother-in-law’s bank account after her death.

On November 28, 2016, STEPHENS pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public money. In pleading guilty, she admitted that from approximately March 2004 to December 2010, she forged her mother-in-law’s signature on bank checks in order to fraudulently obtain approximately $126,000 in Social Security retirement benefits that were deposited into her mother-in-law’s bank account after her mother-in-law had died. In total, STEPHENS forged her mother-in-law’s signature on 98 bank checks to withdraw the money from the account.

STEPHENS has been released on a $200,000 bond since her arrest on April 20, 2016. She was ordered to report to prison on April 3, 2017.

This matter was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj N. Patel.