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New Jersey Man Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Stealing $184,000 in Social Security Benefits Paid to Deceased Relative

May 24, 2018

Office Affiliation: The Office of Investigations

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey:

TRENTON, N.J. – A Perth Amboy, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in prison for stealing Social Security benefits that were mistakenly paid to his deceased great aunt, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Lance D. Nelson, 56, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to Count 1 of an indictment charging him with theft of government funds. Judge Thompson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

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

Nelson’s great aunt received Social Security retirement benefits that were sent to a joint bank account that she shared with Nelson. The Social Security Administration, unaware of her death in February 1998, continued to issue her monthly retirement benefits.

Nelson admitted that he intentionally failed to notify the Social Security Administration of her death so that he could continue to receive her benefits, which he withdrew from their joint account and used for his personal benefit. In total, Nelson, who was employed as an assistant zoning officer for the City of Perth Amboy through the end of 2017, admitted that he took $184,936 in Social Security benefits to which he was not entitled.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Nelson to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $184,936.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the Social Security Administration - Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John F. Grasso of the New York Field Division, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark J. McCarren and Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: Carol Gillen Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark

TRENTON, N.J. – A Perth Amboy, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in prison for stealing Social Security benefits that were mistakenly paid to his deceased great aunt, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Lance D. Nelson, 56, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to Count 1 of an indictment charging him with theft of government funds. Judge Thompson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

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

Nelson’s great aunt received Social Security retirement benefits that were sent to a joint bank account that she shared with Nelson. The Social Security Administration, unaware of her death in February 1998, continued to issue her monthly retirement benefits.

Nelson admitted that he intentionally failed to notify the Social Security Administration of her death so that he could continue to receive her benefits, which he withdrew from their joint account and used for his personal benefit. In total, Nelson, who was employed as an assistant zoning officer for the City of Perth Amboy through the end of 2017, admitted that he took $184,936 in Social Security benefits to which he was not entitled.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Nelson to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $184,936.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the Social Security Administration - Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John F. Grasso of the New York Field Division, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark J. McCarren and Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: Carol Gillen Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark

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