California Public Defender Charged with Defrauding Social Security

Thursday, June 27, 2013
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An Upland attorney surrendered this morning after being charged with stealing approximately $129,795 in social security benefits.

Audrey Owens, 60, a deputy public defender for Riverside County, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court on June 10 with theft of government property in a scheme that spanned 12 years. Owens is charged with one felony count that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

Owens was taken into custody by special agents with the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations. Owens will make her initial court appearance this afternoon in federal court in Riverside.

From June 2000 through August 2012, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Owens fraudulently obtained social security benefits intended for her grandmother, who died in May 2000. After her grandmother’s death, Owens changed the address of a joint account she shared with her grandmother and continued to receive social security payments intended for her grandmother. Owens allegedly used these social security payments to pay bills and to pay expenses that included contributions to the Riverside County Employee Campaign.