Social Security fraud brings probation
A former state tax auditor will have to spend six months of home detention with electronic monitoring after receiving five years of probation for Social Security fraud.
Patricia Pendleton, 79, also will have to pay back $46,321 she collected in Social Security benefits from 2002 to 2006 using a false name and Social Security number.
U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor handed down the sentence Monday.
Pendleton is still entitled to Social Security benefits. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Hino said the government cut off all payments to her in 2006 to pay back the money she stole.
"When criminals steal Social Security money, they're stealing money out of the pockets of everybody who contributes to the Social Security system," he said.
Hino said it will take about six years for Pendleton to pay all the money back. She will still be able to collect military retirement benefits of her late husband.
According to court documents and information presented in court, Pendleton used two different identities and Social Security numbers to collect more than $50,000 in Social Security pension benefits to which she was not entitled.
Using a Social Security number she falsely acquired in 1965 under the name Patricia Blackburn, Pendleton worked as a tax auditor for the state and private industry.
In 1988, she started collecting survivor benefits based on the death of husband and in 1993, started receiving benefits based on the contributions she made as Patricia Blackburn. She had the benefits electronically sent to two different bank accounts.
Hino said Pendleton also applied for but was denied Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration in 2003.
She also racked up $94,000 in credit card charges between 1993 and 2006 using the Blackburn identity that the credit card company dismissed as uncollectable, and $7,000 in charges using her real name, of which $6,000 the company deemed uncollectable, Hino said.
The Social Security Administration discovered the fraud in an initiative specifically looking for beneficiaries receiving multiple benefits under fake identities and/or multiple Social Security numbers.
Anyone having information about Social Security fraud is asked to call the toll-free Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271 or firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.