NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MICHAEL R. MATHERNE (“MATHERNE”), age 61, of Slidell, Louisiana pled guilty as charged on July 22, 2021 to an indictment returned by a grand jury on November 6, 2020, for Theft of Federal Funds.
According to the Indictment, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), an agency or department of the United States of America, operated the Retirement Survivor Insurance Benefit program (“RSI Program”). The purpose of the RSI Program is to provide benefits to certain persons, including widows and widowers, in their retirement.
In or around January 1993, M.F. applied for and began receiving RSI Program benefits. The SSA sent the benefits to M.F. at her address in Slidell, Louisiana in the form of a paper check, which she regularly deposited into her Whitney bank account.
On September 24, 2006, M.F. and MATHERNE were married. In July 2012, MATHERNE created a joint Whitney bank account. On November 3, 2012, M.F. died and MATHERNE never advised the SSA of M.F.’s death.
From December 2012 through March 2019, SSA continued sending checks to M.F., at her home address in Slidell, Louisiana, and MATHERNE continued depositing the checks into the Whitney bank account. From December 2012 through March 2019, MATHERNE received monthly SSA benefits totaling approximately $75,838, which he deposited into the Whitney bank account and used for his living expenses.
MATHERNE entered a guilty plea on July 22, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Barry W. Ashe. He is set to be sentenced November 4, 2021. MATHERNE faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000, supervised release of at least 3 years, and a mandatory special assessment of $100 as to each count.
The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carter K. D. Guice, Jr.