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The US Attorney’s Office in Arizona has filed federal criminal charges against 11 individuals for theft of government property in connection with an investigation into stolen Social Security Administration (SSA) benefit payments.

The SSA Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation to locate and collect SSA benefit payments that were disbursed to individuals later determined to be deceased. In some cases, these payments continued for years, with no one notifying the SSA of the beneficiary’s death. In addition to the criminal cases listed below resulting in the theft of more than $1.3 million, the SSA was able to use its debt collection and reclamation authority to recover $1,195,333 in nine other matters that were resolved without criminal charges.

The investigation also uncovered evidence of fraud and misuse of SSA benefit payments—often by relatives of the deceased beneficiaries—resulting in felony and misdemeanor charges in the following cases:

  • United States v. Patricia Munson, Case No. CR-21-00622-PHX-JZB
  • United States v. Douglas Pasley, Case No. CR-21-00683-PHX-MTM
  • United States v. Tamara Head, Case No. CR-21-00693-PHX-ESW
  • United States v. Marva Martin, Case No. CR-21-00716-PHX-SMB
  • United States v. Dennis Diaz, Case No. CR-21-00842-PHX-MTL
  • United States v. Kristy Schlueter, Case No. CR-21-00843-PHX-MTL
  • United States v. Freda Hunt, Case No. CR-21-00844-PHX-DLR
  • United States v. Karen Hardesty, Case No. CR-21-00919-PHX-MTL
  • United States v. Joseph McCullough, Case No. CR-21-00950-PHX-ESW
  • United States v. Carol Harmon, Case No. CR-21-01051-PHX-MHB
  • United States v. Diana Fast, Case No. CR-22-00279-PHX-JJT
  • A conviction for theft of public money carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.

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