Former Syracuse Social Security Administration Employee Sentenced for Aggravated Identity Theft and Theft of Funds
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York:
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK - Sean Okrzesik, age 34, of Syracuse, was sentenced today to serve 25-months in federal prison on charges of aggravated identity theft and theft of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The charges stemmed from Okrzesik’s use of the names and Social Security numbers of SSI beneficiaries or their representative payees in order to steal SSI benefit payments. Okrzesik’s conduct occurred while he was employed in the Syracuse District Office of the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenue. The program is designed to help the elderly and people with disabilities, with little or no income, cover the costs of basic needs.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Sharon B. MacDermott, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Office.
As part of his previously entered guilty plea, Okrzesik admitted that from February of 2020 through February of 2021, he opened bank accounts using the names and Social Security numbers of various SSI beneficiaries or their representative payees. Okrzesik also admitted that once these accounts had been created, he would divert SSI benefit payments intended for these beneficiaries into the accounts, which he then used to pay personal expenses including the purchase of video gaming equipment, a custom suit, jewelry, airline tickets to the Caribbean, and online gambling. The total amount of SSI benefits stolen by Okrzesik was $103,798.77.
“Sean Okrzesik stole from Supplemental Security Income funds while working for the Social Security Administration,” said United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman. “Hard working Americans contributed to those funds to support their fellow citizens who need help. The sentence imposed today represents a measure of justice for that breach of faith and serves as notice to those who might consider similar thefts that they will be held fully accountable for their crimes.”
“Mr. Okrzesik used his position of public trust at the Social Security Administration (SSA) to steal Supplemental Security Income funds, a safety net for those in need. We will continue to work with SSA to identify suspected employee fraud,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the SSA. “I want to thank SSA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle for their ongoing commitment in their fight to help ensure public trust in SSA’s vital programs.”
United States District Judge David N. Hurd also imposed a 3-year term of supervised release, which will start after Okrzesik is released from prison, and ordered Okrzesik to pay $103,798.77 in restitution to SSA.
This case was investigated by the SSA Office of the Inspector General and was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle.