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Punxsutawney Woman Indicted on Social Security Fraud Charges

February 22, 2024

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A resident of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Johnstown on a charge of theft of government funds, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.

The one-count Indictment named Patty Merlo, 65, as the sole defendant.

According to the Indictment, from in and around May 2016 to in and around January 2022, Merlo did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully embezzle, steal, purloin, and convert to her own use money and a thing of value of the United States or a department or agency thereof, in the form of approximately $91,300 in Social Security Income benefit payments, to which she knew she was not entitled.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Michael L. Mitchell is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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