Pennsylvania Woman Accused of Cashing Deceased Mother's Social Security Checks for 14 Years

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
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Article from Bucks County Courier Times here

A 65-year-old Bucks County woman is accused of cashing 14 years’ worth of Social Security payments intended for her mother, who died in 1996.

Helen Pulak is charged with theft by deception and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, both felonies, after cashing $89,851 worth of her mother’s Social Security checks since her mother, Hedwig Pulak, died on July 20, 1996, according to court records.

District Judge Mark Douple ordered the charges held for trial after a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon.

A special agent from the Social Security Administration discovered that Hedwig Pulak’s benefits were being deposited into a PNC bank account in Doylestown after her death in 1996 at the age of 89, according to court records.

According to the Social Security Administration, the account was jointly held by Helen and Hedwig Pulak and the younger Pulak did not notify Social Security of her mother’s death.

According to court records and investigators, a bank employee said Helen Pulak withdrew money from the bank account shortly after Social Security deposited the money into the account. The payments ended in 2010 when the Social Security Administration discovered Hedwig Pulak was dead, court records said.

At the time of the alleged thefts, Helen Pulak lived on Butler Avenue in New Britain, police said. However, she has since moved to Doylestown, according to court records.

After her arrest in February, Pulak was sent to county prison on $250,000 bail. The bail was lowered a few days later and she was released after posting $2,500, according to court records.