California Woman Pleads Guilty to $247,000 Deceased Payee Fraud

Date: 
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Office Affiliation: 

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Toni Teresi, 75, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty today to theft of government property, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, Teresi’s mother received divorced-spouse Social Security benefits following the ex-husband’s death in 1963. Teresi and her mother held a joint bank account where the Social Security Administration (SSA) deposited the mother’s monthly benefits. The mother was entitled to these benefits until her death on February 24, 1987. Teresi did not report her mother’s death to SSA, and SSA continued to deposit the mother’s benefit funds to the joint account from February 1987 to March 2014. Over this 27-year period, SSA paid approximately $247,236 to the joint account. During this period, Teresi stole the Social Security benefits for her own use, knowing that she was not entitled to the benefits.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Artuz is prosecuting the case.

Teresi is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. on December 13, 2018. Teresi faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.