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September 09, 2015

Philadelphia woman sentenced in theft of dead husband's benefits

Social Security Adminstration defrauded of more than $200,000 over 14 years

A Philadelphia woman was sentenced on Wednesday to spend two months in jail and pay $264,021 in restitution to the government after pleading guilty to two counts of conversion of government funds earlier this year.

From 1998 through 2012, 68-year-old Shirley Goldwire stole retirement benefits intended for her deceased husband by forging his name on checks tied to his bank account and establishing a false power of attorney over his affairs, according to a release from the United States Attorney's Office. Goldwire also stole benefits intended for a friend of her ex-husband, who was also deceased, by using a debit card tied to his account.

The fraud was eventually discovered by the Social Security Administration when field officers, attempting to make personal contact with the beneficiaries through the Centenarian Project, were deceived by the defendant. The project, which checks on recipients at or around 100 years of age, was twice misled when Goldwire had her son impersonate her dead husband on the phone.

The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Amanda R. Reinitz.