A San Diego man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to stealing nearly $272,000 in Social Security benefits intended for his father, who died in 1997.
Abel Jose Perez acknowledged that for more than 16 years, he retained exclusive access to and controlled a bank account belonging to his deceased parents, and all funds deposited into that account.
Perez, who was not an authorized user of the account, also never informed either the bank or the Social Security Administration of his father’s death, prosecutors said.
Perez also admitted that he never requested that the Social Security Administration terminate the monthly direct deposit of his father’s retirement benefits, which continued each month from August 1997 until February 2014.
Perez admitted that he knew his father’s retirement benefits should have been terminated upon his death, but he nonetheless converted all $271,925 to his own use, with no intention of ever returning it to the United States.
“The only difference between this and armed robbery is the gun,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson. “This defendant stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the ultimate victims are those who pay into Social Security expecting to receive benefits down the road. We won’t let thieves get away with these crimes, even if they have untraditional methods.”
As part of his plea agreement, Perez agreed to pay full restitution to the Social Security Administration. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to twice his gross gains when he is sentenced Aug. 7.
–City News Service
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