Dorchester Woman Sentenced for Stealing Social Security and SNAP Benefits

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Office Affiliation: 

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

BOSTON – A Dorchester woman was sentenced today for stealing over $80,000 in Social Security and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.    

Phaedra M. Sheets, 46, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris to eight months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. Sheets also was ordered to pay restitution of $85,559 to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and to the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. In September 2020, Sheets pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of public funds.

Sheets’ mother was receiving Social Security benefits and SNAP benefits at the time of her death in November 2009. Her death was never reported to the SSA nor to the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, and the agencies continued to pay monthly benefits on her behalf. When SSA attempted to contact Sheets’ mother to perform a review of her benefits claim, Sheets posed as her mother and directed SSA to deposit her mother’s benefits into various bank accounts, from which Sheets withdrew the funds. Sheets also impersonated her deceased mother in interactions with the Department of Transitional Assistance and used her mother’s SNAP card to make purchases for nearly nine years after her death.

From December 2009 to September 2018, Sheets stole approximately $71,636 in Social Security benefits and approximately $13,923 in SNAP benefits.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Tonya Perkins, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; and Suzanne M. Bump, State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made the announcement today. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Burzycki of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.