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A former U.S. Social Security Administration employee pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Friday to charges related to taking tens of thousands of dollars in government benefits intended for senior citizens.

Nam-Phong Hung Le of Chula Vista, 37, a former technical expert with the Social Security Administration, pleaded to charges of Social Security fraud and theft of public property for creating bank accounts in the names of seniors who were owed Supplemental Security Income payments — including one person who was deceased — then deposited those funds into his personal bank accounts.

Prosecutors say Le also received medical premium payments made out to two former SSI recipients, whose SSI eligibility had lapsed due to moving out of the country.

Le agreed Friday to pay full restitution to the Social Security Administration and California’s Department of Health Care Services as part of his plea agreement. Sentencing is scheduled for July 12.

“There is nothing more important to federal employment than public trust,” said Robb Stickley, special agent in charge of Social Security’s San Francisco Field Division. “When that trust is violated, it impacts the entire federal workforce and those they serve.”

–City News Service

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