A man has admitted not reporting his great aunt’s death to the government in order to collect nearly $185,000 in Social Security benefits for nearly 20 years.
US Attorney Craig Carpenito said 56-year-old Lance Nelson pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court in Trenton. He admitted he never told the government about his aunt’s death.
Nelson, who worked as an assistant zoning officer for Perth Amboy through the end of 2017, faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He is to be sentenced April 17.
Prosecutors said the Social Security Administration was unaware of Nelson’s great aunt’s death in 1998 and continued sending monthly benefits to a joint account he had access to until February 2016.
Nelson sent more than $53,000 from the joint account into his own between August 2009 and March 2016, according to court documents.
He withdrew around $30,000 from the joint account between April 2011 and October 2015 from ATMs in New Jersey.
Part of the indictment reads: ‘The defendant did knowingly and intentionally embezzle, steal, purloin, and convert to his own use and the use of other, without authority, money of the United States and SSA, namely, approximately $184,936 in Social Security benefits to which he was not entitles.’