From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A Tuscaloosa County woman who was employed by the Social Security Administration pled guilty today in federal court, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, Atlanta Division Special Agent in Charge Rodregas Owens, and United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Patrick Davis.
LATANYA HATTER, 46, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, entered her guilty plea before United States District Judge L. Scott Coogler to charges of wire fraud, theft of government funds, and identity theft. The information was filed in September.
According to Hatter’s plea agreement, Hatter was a Social Security Administration (“SSA”) benefits authorizer in the Birmingham, Alabama field office. From December 5, 2017, through January 31, 2018, Hatter exceeded her access to SSA databases and made necessary inputs to create fraudulent underpayments for deceased SSA beneficiaries. Hatter then directed the funds to bank accounts to which she had access or to bank accounts belonging to relatives and friends. Hatter created 25 fraudulent underpayments to deceased SSA beneficiaries that totaled $148,428.
“This defendant blatantly abused her position of trust as a Social Security Administration employee, using her access to steal the identities of the deceased and to pocket money for her own personal greed and use,” Town said. “This outright theft and misuse of funds will not be tolerated and those who continue to operate these type schemes will be prosecuted in federal court.”
“Ms. Hatter’s position with the Social Security Administration (SSA) afforded her the opportunity to put in place a scheme that defrauded not only the United States Government; and the SSA, but also those deceased victims who were unable to speak for themselves,” Davis said. “Ms. Hatter violated the trust and confidence that had been bestowed upon her.”
“This plea is the result of thorough investigative work indicating this individual abused the public trust in her position with Social Security,” said Owens. “Employee fraud is rare, but Social Security OIG is committed to working with the agency to identify those instances and take decisive action. We appreciate the U.S. Attorney’s support in this important endeavor.”
The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for theft of government funds is 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for identity theft is 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and United States Secret Service investigated the case, which Assistant United States Attorney Catherine Crosby Long is prosecuting.