Tennessee Woman Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Receiving Deceased Mother's Retirement Benefits
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Tennessee:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Leslie Schwinzer, 46, of Knoxville, pleaded guilty to a one count Information of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 in the United States District Court at Knoxville. Sentencing is set for July 14, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., before the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Schwinzer faces a term of imprisonment of up to 20 years in prison and will be ordered to pay $56,351.55 in restitution to New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS).
As part of the written plea agreement filed with the court on January 31, 2022, Schwinzer waived an indictment by a Federal Grand Jury and agreed to plead guilty to the aforementioned charge. Schwinzer admitted that she failed to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the New York State Comptroller’s Office, NYSLRS from which Schwinzer’s mother received a pension benefit, that Schwinzer’s mother had passed away on July 3, 2018. Instead, Schwinzer continued to receive both monthly NYSLRS payments and bi-weekly Social Security payments into a joint bank account held with her mother after her mother’s death.
The plea agreement detailed that, in total, SSA and NYSLRS deposited $92,222.55 into the joint account after Schwinzer’s mother’s death. Schwinzer withdrew all the deposited funds from the account until she was questioned by the bank on December 19, 2019, about whether her mother had passed away. However, Schwinzer continued to allow SSA and NYSLRS payments to be made into the account until January 31, 2021. Schwinzer acknowledged that she was not lawfully permitted to retain the funds from SSA and NYSLRS. SSA was able to recover the funds that it had paid to the joint account following Schwinzer’s mother’s death. Schwinzer has agreed to pay $56,351.55 to NYSLRS.
This prosecution is the result of a joint investigation by the Social Security Administration Inspector General Office and the New York Comptroller’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorney Frank M. Dale Jr. represented the United States.