Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Thomas Caul, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), announce that Brenda Harden, 56, of Okeechobee, Florida, pled guilty today to charges of embezzlement and theft of government monies.
According to statements made in open court and documents filed in the case, Harden is the daughter of the late Mary Beard, who died on November 20, 2012. Harden had a joint checking bank account with her mother, and she continued to withdraw and spend her mother’s Social Security widow’s survivor benefits, when they continued to be paid every month following Beard’s death. Until the discovery of the overpayments by the Social Security Administration, which ended all payments in April 2014, Harden had taken and spent for herself a total of $24,499.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 13, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg in Fort Pierce. At sentencing, Harden faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the SSA-OIG. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.