NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that MICHAEL R. MATHERNE (“MATHERNE”), age 60, of Slidell, Louisiana was charged by a grand jury on November 6, 2020, in a 1-count Indictment for Theft of Federal Funds.
According to the Indictment, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), an agency or department of the United States of America, operated the Retirement Survivor Insurance Benefit program (“RSI Program”). The purpose of the RSI Program is to provide benefits to certain persons, including widows and widowers, in their retirement.
On or around January 1993, M.F. applied for and began receiving RSI Program benefits. The SSA sent the benefits to M.F. at her address in Slidell, Louisiana in the form of a paper check, which she regularly deposited into her Whitney bank account, ending in 5817.
On or about September 24, 2006, M.F. and MATHERNE were married. In or around July 2012, MATHERNE created a joint Whitney bank account ending in 5817. On about November 3, 2012, M.F. died. MATHERNE never advised the SSA of M.F.’s death.
From December 2012 through March 2019, SSA continued sending checks to M.F., at her home address in Slidell, Louisiana, and MATHERNE continued depositing the checks into the Whitney bank account, ending in 5817. From December 2012 through March 2019, MATHERNE received monthly SSA benefits totaling approximately $75,838, which he deposited into the Whitney bank account, ending in 5817, and used for his living expenses.
If convicted, MATHERNE faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000, supervised release of at least 3 years, and a special assessment of $100 as to each count.
The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General. U.S. Attorney Strasser reiterated that the Indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharan E. Lieberman.
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