TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a Bergen County woman was sentenced to jail for stealing $128,131 by fraudulently collecting Social Security benefits for her mother for nearly eight years after the mother died.
Linda Miller, 59, of Englewood, N.J., was sentenced to six months in the county jail and five years of probation by Superior Court Judge Christopher R. Kazlau in Bergen County. She was ordered to pay full restitution. Miller pleaded guilty on Dec. 23 to a charge of second-degree theft by deception. Miller has already served the required jail time. The charge was contained in a Nov. 12, 2015 indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
Deputy Attorney General Anthony Torntore prosecuted Miller and handled the sentencing. The indictment was the result of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Social Security Administration, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
After Miller’s mother died on May 4, 2006, Miller fraudulently continued to collect her mother’s Social Security benefits until July 2014. The benefits were direct deposited into a bank account in Miller’s name and subsequently withdrawn by Miller. Miller stole a total of $128,131 in Social Security benefits that were paid into her account after the mother’s death.
“Devious offenders like Miller drain critical resources that are needed to keep the Social Security program strong,” said Attorney General Porrino. “We’ll continue to work with our federal partners to fight fraud and protect this vital program.”
“By aggressively prosecuting fraudsters like Miller, we send a strong message that these crimes won’t be tolerated,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge anyone with information about this type of fraud to contact us or the Social Security Administration.”
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that members of the public can report fraud or abuse involving the Social Security program by calling the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 800-269-0271 or the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice at 866-TIPS-4CJ.
Miller also was charged in the State of New York with fraudulently collecting pension benefits from the mother’s New York State pension after the mother died. Miller pleaded guilty in July 2015 in New York State to a third-degree charge of larceny. She was sentenced to a jail term and is currently on supervised release in connection with that charge. It was the Office of the State Comptroller in New York that first learned that the mother had died but that Social Security benefits were still being paid for her. That office referred the matter to the U.S. Social Security Administration.
The case was investigated by Special Agent Kristie Morgan of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and Detective James Gallo of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, with assistance from U.S. Postal Inspector Brian MacDonald of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Attorney General Porrino thanked the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General under the direction of Edward J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division, for its investigation and referral.
Jae Y. Lee, Esq., The Law Office of Jae Y. Lee LLC, Englewood, N.J.