New Orleans Man Admits to Stealing $48,000 in Social Security Funds

Thursday, February 21, 2013
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An Algiers man pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing almost $48,000 in Social Security payments the government provided to his mother, who died more than eight years ago in Vietnam. Lam Nguyen, 40, admitted to federal agents he withheld word of his mother's death from the Social Security Administration and continued using the money because he was unemployed and needed help to support his family.

His mother, who is not identified in court records, died in Ho Chi Minh City in December 2002, but her checks continued to be delivered to her Vespasian Boulevard home in Algiers, federal prosecutors said.

Her Social Security checks should have stopped when she died. However, Nguyen continued depositing the checks in his bank account until March 2011, when agents of the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General questioned him.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr., who accepted the plea, is scheduled to sentence Nguyen on May 15. Nguyen faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Loan "Mimi" Nguyen, no relation, prosecuted the case. Lam Nguyen was represented by federal public defender George Chaney, records show.

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