Illinois Woman Pleads Guilty to Theft of Social Security Benefits

Friday, April 27, 2012
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A DeKalb, Ill. woman pleaded guilty today to stealing Social Security retirement benefits that were payable to her deceased mother. Laverne F. Torrey, 59, of DeKalb, entered her guilty plea today in federal court in Rockford, during a hearing conducted by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala.

According to the written plea agreement, prior to her death, Torrey’s mother received Social Security retirement benefits which were deposited directly into a checking account at a Chicago bank. Both Torrey and her mother were signatories on the account. Torrey’s mother died in March 2009, and Torrey admitted that she knew she was not entitled to receive her mother’s Social Security retirement benefits after her mother’s death. Despite this fact, Torrey failed to notify the Social Security Administration of her mother’s death and instead continued to collect benefits that were deposited into the checking account. Torrey acknowledged that from April 2009 through August 2011, she illegally obtained a total of $37,207 in Social Security retirement funds that were payable to her deceased mother. Torrey also admitted that she spent all of these Social Security retirement benefits, for her own personal expenses.

The charge in this case carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a $250,000 maximum fine. Torrey has already paid full restitution. The actual sentence will be determined by the United States District Court, guided by the advisory Sentencing Guidelines. Torrey’s sentencing is scheduled for August 14, 2012, at 9:30 a.m.

The guilty plea was announced today by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and William Cotter, Special Agent-In-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Social Security Administration - Office of the Inspector General.

 The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Verseman.