A Jersey City woman has been indicted on charges alleging she stole $272,000 in her dead father’s benefits for over 12 years, Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Sylvia Wilkerson, 67, of Jersey City, was indicted yesterday by a state grand jury on charges of second-degree theft by deception, second-degree theft by unlawful taking, and fourth-degree forgery.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Social Security Administration and the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
It is alleged that after Wilkerson’s father died in September 2004, she fraudulently continued to collect her father’s Social Security benefits, his Second Injury Fund workers’ compensation permanent disability benefits, and his pension benefits for a total of approximately $272,223, authorities said.
The benefits were direct-deposited into a bank account in her father’s name. After his death, Wilkerson allegedly withdrew a significant majority of the benefit money that was deposited each month into the account via ATM withdrawals.
In 2006, she changed the address on the account from her father’s address to her own home address, officials said.
Wilkerson allegedly continued to submit required annual re-certification forms for the Second Injury Fund and pension benefits, forging her father’s name and identifying herself as “preparer” on the Second Injury Fund forms.
From September 2004 through January 2017, Wilkerson allegedly stole a total of approximately $109,716 in Social Security benefits, $147,312 in Second Injury Fund benefits, and $15,195 in Joint Industry Pension Board benefits.
“We allege that Wilkerson deviously stole over a quarter of a million dollars in benefits from Social Security, a workers’ comp program for the disabled, and an industry pension plan, all of which supported her father financially while he was alive,” Porrino said in a statement.
“We’ll aggressively prosecute alleged con artists like Wilkerson, who are a costly drain on these vital financial safety nets.”
Members of the public can report fraud or abuse involving the Social Security program by calling the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 800-269-0271 or the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice at 866-TIPS-4CJ.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.