5 in Western Pa. accused of cashing Social Security checks for dead relatives, roommate | TribLIVE.com
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5 in Western Pa. accused of cashing Social Security checks for dead relatives, roommate

Natasha Lindstrom
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The Trump administration could soon use websites like Facebook and Twitter to help find people who claim Social Security disability benefits who are not actually disabled, The New York Times reported.

A grand jury in Pittsburgh has accused five Western Pennsylvanians of defrauding the federal government by receiving thousands of dollars in benefits in the names of dead relatives and household members, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said.

The defendants each face one-count indictments that allege they accepted benefits to which they were not entitled via the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Old Age, Survivor’s and Disability Insurance program, Brady said.

In each case, the defendant collected and spent federal money intended for a relative or roommate who had died, according to federal prosecutors.

The individuals accused of theft of government property include:

• Loraleigh Helen Barber, 48, of Erie is accused of receiving more than $127,000 in benefits to which she knew she was not entitled. Barber was a representative payee for her father — but she never told the federal government that he died in December 2006. She continued receiving and spending benefits intended for her father from Jan. 1, 2007 through Aug. 2, the indictment said.

• Felicia Bell, 49, of Pittsburgh is accused of receiving about $76,000 in benefits intended for her mother-in-law following her mother-in-law’s death. The indictment alleges Bell received the benefits between December 2010 and June.

• Mitchell Edward McGrew, 31, of Cheswick is accused of receiving about $28,000 in benefits to which he was not entitled between January 2018 and March. He accepted the benefits in the name of his dead father, the indictment said.

• Linda Ann Foltz, 33, of Coraopolis is accused of receiving nearly $22,000 in benefits intended for her mother, who had died. Foltz is accused of accepting money between March 2017 and July.

• Shane L. Black, 47, of Nemacolin is accused of receiving $10,500 in benefits that were supposed to go to a woman who used to be Black’s roommate but died in 2017. Black received the money between Dec. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, the indictment said.

If convicted, each defendant could face a maximum possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The U.S. Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation that led to the indictments.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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