Metairie Woman Sentenced for Theft of Social Security Funds and Cares Act Funds
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana:
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that defendant, RACHEL COONEY, of Metairie, Louisiana, was sentenced on January 5, 2023 for Theft of Government Funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641.
According to court documents, COONEY’s mother was receiving social security benefits before her death. When she died, these benefits should have terminated. However, COONEY continued to receive the payments by accessing her deceased mother’s bank account from November 2015 through January 2020. COONEY also received $1,200.00 of COVID-19/CARES ACT funds deposited into her mother’s account. COONEY admitted to federal authorities that she used her deceased mother’s ATM card to pay for her own personal expenses knowing she was not entitled to Social Security benefits or the COVID-19/CARES ACT funds. COONEY failed to notify the Social Security Administration of her mother’s death, and fraudulently received approximately $76,139.00 in benefits to which she was not entitled. COONEY also received $1,200.00 of COVID-19/CARES ACT funds to which she was not entitled.
U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier sentenced COONEY to five (5) years of probation, the payment of restitution to the Social Security Administration in the amount of $76,139.00 and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachal Cassagne and Jon Maestri.