HOUSTON – A 67-year-old Willis woman has admitted she stole the identity of a deceased woman and used it for financial gain for nearly 20 years, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Jerrie Mona Chesney pleaded guilty today to one count of theft of public money.
In the late 1980s, Chesney read in a local newspaper about the death of a woman who had lived in the Beaumont area. Chesney contacted woman’s family and was able to obtain her personal identification information under the guise that she was an old high school friend. However, Chesney had no prior knowledge this woman. Chesney also obtained additional personal information about the deceased woman from the local funeral home who handled the burial arrangements.
Chesney took the identifying information and obtained a Texas Driver’s License and a Social Security card using the deceased woman’s name as her own.
From approximately 1995 until 2014, Chesney obtained Social Security disability benefits and supplemental Social Security benefits utilizing the name of the deceased woman. She was also able to obtain Medicare benefits and food stamp benefits using the woman’s false identification information. As a result, she received approximately $388,000 in benefits from these programs.
U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal accepted the plea today and set sentencing for Oct. 16, 2016. At that time, Chesney faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible maximum fine of $250,000. She will remain on bond pending that hearing.
The Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Quincy L. Ollison is prosecuting the case.