Former Bank Employee Sentenced on Charges related to Stealing Social Security Administration Benefits from Account of Deceased Customer
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan:
BAY CITY - A former JPMorgan Chase Bank branch manager was sentenced today to 34 months in federal prison on charges of theft of government funds and identity theft, stemming from his theft of Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits from the account of a deceased bank customer, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Gail S. Ennis, Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Region, Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General.
Jeffrey Piecka, 46, of Midland was sentenced this afternoon by United Stated District Judge Thomas L. Ludington in the United States District Court in Bay City.
According to court records, Piecka devised a scheme to steal $169,967.63 in government benefits from the bank account of a deceased individual. Piecka, a former branch manager with JPMorgan Chase Bank, identified the individual’s account in the course of his employment, noting that it had little activity. Suspecting that the account owner had passed away, Piecka manipulated the bank account to create online account access for himself, and he proceeded to withdraw significant sums of money from the account by various means, including by making online payments to credit card companies, a utility company, his apartment complex, and his car lender.
“The defendant was in a position to safeguard bank customers’ accounts, and he abused that trust. It is also important to remember that stealing from the government is stealing from the taxpayers that fund that government. The sentence today reflects the seriousness of this offense,” stated U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison.
“Mr. Piecka was in a position of trust; he abused it for his personal gain and stole over $169,000 in Social Security benefits. This sentence holds him accountable for his criminal actions,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “My office will continue to work with SSA to identify improper payments to deceased persons. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this individual and protecting the integrity of SSA programs.”
Piecka was also ordered to repay $169,967.63 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.
This case was investigated by special agents of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Corinne M. Lambert, and Assistant United States Attorney Ryan A. Particka.