Fitchburg Woman Sentenced for Social Security, MassHealth and Food Stamp Fraud

Date: 
Monday, April 5, 2021
Office Affiliation: 

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

BOSTON – A Fitchburg woman was sentenced today in federal court in Worcester for fraudulently receiving Social Security disability benefits, MassHealth and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.   

Rhonda Bernal, 62, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to one month of home confinement and two years of probation. Bernal also was ordered to make restitution to the Social Security Administration, MassHealth, and the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. In December 2020, Bernal pleaded to three counts of theft of public funds and two counts of making false statements.

Over a period of approximately eight years, Bernal stole $71,462 in Social Security benefits, $6,444 in MassHealth benefits and $13,505 in SNAP benefits (previously known as Food Stamps). In February 2015, Bernal falsely informed the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance that she was the only person in her household when, in fact, she was living with her husband. In addition, Bernal falsely told Social Security in April 2016 that she and a relative, who was not her husband, were the only members of her household.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Tonya Perkins, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; Phillip M. Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Boston Regional Office; and Suzanne M. Bump, State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made the announcement today. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Burzycki of Mendell’s Major Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.