Federal prosecutors in Western Washington say they've prosecuted six people this year who have stolen almost a million dollars of Social Security benefits meant for a dead parents over many years.
"We've had several cases going on right now where people died in the late 1980s or the late 1990s and one of their children committed fraud, forged their signature, did different things to be able to collected hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Wilkinson.
On Friday, 57-year-old Patty Buchanan was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $239,083 in restitution. Prosecutors said she collected her dead father's Social Security benefits more than 19 years after he died.
“Fraud against Social Security harms the poor, the disabled, and those most in need, including the elderly,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “These prosecutions are aimed at preserving the integrity of the Social Security safety net so that it remains available for vulnerable people who need these benefits to survive.”
Prosecutors also caught 76-year-old, Dennis Gorin after he buried his own mother's body and never told the federal government that she died.
"They confronted Mr. Gorin and at first he was deceptive and that she was nearby but he didn't exactly say where she was. Ultimately he confessed to the fact she had died years earlier," said Wilkinson.
He collected her Social Security benefits for 10 years, officials said.
He's already pleaded guilty to fraud, and is awaiting sentencing.
At his home in Eatonville, when asked about the fraud he never admitted to stealing the benefits.
We reminded him that he already pleaded guilty and he responded, "It's never been proven."
Prosecutors said he stole about $100,000 in Social Security benefits.
When asked about burying his own mother, Gorin responded, "I obviously can't announce it on your format."
Gorin will be sentenced in September.