EAST ST. LOUIS – A 72-year-old Caseyville woman admitted to cashing more than $128,000 in her deceased mother’s Social Security benefits in a U.S. District Court on Monday. Darlene L. Roger pled guilty to one count of Theft of Government Funds.

“Concealing a relative’s death from the Government in order to keep receiving the relative’s Social Security benefits constitutes felony theft,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “Individuals tempted to do this face going to federal prison.”

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“Ms. Rogers knowingly committed fraud by stealing Social Security retirement benefits that were intended for her deceased mother,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA). “I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case. We will continue to protect the integrity of the SSA and hold accountable those who defraud its programs.”

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According to court documents, Juanita M. Rich, the defendant’s mother, collected monthly benefits from the Social Security Administration until her passing in October 1997. The family didn’t report Rich’s death to the SSA, and in October 2009, Rogers forged her mother’s signature to gain ownership of the bank account.

For 12 years, Rogers used her deceased mother’s checkbook to write checks payable to herself in approximately the amount of the monthly social security deposit. In early 2021, the SSA discovered Rich was deceased and launched an investigation.

From October 2009 to April 2021, the SSA deposited $128,656 into the bank account. The defendant’s sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on May 23, 2023.

The Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General led the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Verseman is prosecuting the case.

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