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.Â
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 Wilkersonâ€™s father died in September 2004, she fraudulently continued to collect her fatherâ€™s Social Security benefits, his Second Injury Fund workersâ€™ 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 fatherâ€™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 fatherâ€™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 fatherâ€™s name and identifying herself as â€œpreparerâ€ 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.
â€œWe allege that Wilkerson deviously stole over a quarter of a million dollars in benefits from Social Security, a workersâ€™ comp program for the disabled, and an industry pension plan, all of which supported her father financially while he was alive,â€ Porrino said in a statement.
â€œWeâ€™ll aggressively prosecute alleged con artists like Wilkerson, who are a costly drain on these vital financial safety nets.â€
Members of the public can report fraud or abuse involving the Social Security program by calling the Social Security Administrationâ€™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.