Sandra Smith, a 50-year-old woman from Georgia, has been sentenced to over a year in federal prison and ordered to pay full restitution of $459,050 after admitting to stealing pension and social security payments from her deceased mother-in-law’s bank account.
The announcement was made by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, along with U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan K. Buchanan, and Inspector General for the Social Security Administration Gail S. Ennis.
Smith’s crime involved the exploitation of her deceased mother-in-law, Minnie Smith, a former employee of the State Insurance Fund and a Brooklyn native who retired in 2005. After her death in September 2006, the family failed to notify the New York state retirement system or the Social Security Administration (SSA). Instead, a fraudulent change of address form was submitted, allowing pension and social security deposits to continue into Minnie Smith’s account, which Sandra Smith had access to as her caretaker.
Over the period from September 2006 to April 2021, approximately $264,699 in retirement system payments and $194,351 in Social Security payments were deposited into the account. Sandra Smith, who managed Minnie Smith’s finances, illicitly transferred these funds to her personal accounts for her use. She pleaded guilty to two federal counts of theft of government funds in July. The case highlights the seriousness of such crimes and the commitment of federal and state authorities to hold individuals accountable for defrauding government benefit programs.
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