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11 Charged With Over $1.3 Million in Social Security Administration Benefits Fraud

April 18, 2022

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona:

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, announced today that federal criminal charges have been filed against 11 individuals for theft of government property in connection with an investigation into stolen Social Security Administration (SSA) benefit payments.

The SSA Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation to locate and collect SSA benefit payments that were disbursed to individuals later determined to be deceased. In some cases, these payments continued for years, with no one notifying the SSA of the beneficiary’s death. In addition to the criminal cases listed below resulting in the theft of more than $1.3 million, the SSA was able to use its debt collection and reclamation authority to recover $1,195,333 in nine other matters that were resolved without criminal charges.

The investigation also uncovered evidence of fraud and misuse of SSA benefit payments—often by relatives of the deceased beneficiaries—resulting in felony and misdemeanor charges in the following cases:

United States v. Patricia Munson, Case No. CR-21-00622-PHX-JZB

United States v. Douglas Pasley, Case No. CR-21-00683-PHX-MTM

United States v. Tamara Head, Case No. CR-21-00693-PHX-ESW

United States v. Marva Martin, Case No. CR-21-00716-PHX-SMB

United States v. Dennis Diaz, Case No. CR-21-00842-PHX-MTL

United States v. Kristy Schlueter, Case No. CR-21-00843-PHX-MTL

United States v. Freda Hunt, Case No. CR-21-00844-PHX-DLR

United States v. Karen Hardesty, Case No. CR-21-00919-PHX-MTL

United States v. Joseph McCullough, Case No. CR-21-00950-PHX-ESW

United States v. Carol Harmon, Case No. CR-21-01051-PHX-MHB

United States v. Diana Fast, Case No. CR-22-00279-PHX-JJT

A conviction for theft of public money carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.

An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation in this case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix, is handling the prosecution.

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