Md. man gets prison time for collecting money after mom's death

July 15, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

GREENBELT, Md. - A Middletown, Md., man is facing a 15-month stint in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges he used the identity of his dead mother to collect nearly $250,000.

Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced John Williams, 57, to 15 months in prison Monday and ordered him to pay $230,904.46 in restitution to the U.S. Government as a result of a February guilty plea, according to a Internal Revenue Service news release.

Williams pleaded guilty to six counts of theft of government property and three counts of presenting false claims to the United States through false tax returns in the name of Sylvia Williams, his mother, the release said. Sylvia Williams died in July 1989, according to the release.


Williams, whose father was a government employee, continued to receive and deposit annuity payment checks issued to his mother, who was entitled to survivor benefits, according to the release.

Williams did not report his mother's death until July 9, 1999, a decade after her death, the release said. He also told the Office of Personnel Management she died in 1999, according to the release.

Williams used the funds, which were transferred directly into his bank account since 1998, for expenses including his monthly mortgage payment, the release said.

Williams will have to sell the house to get the money to he must repay, according to IRS Criminal Investigation Division spokeswoman Special Agent Mary Frances Martin.

Martin said the sale of Williams' residence and the immediate restitution of the funds were two aspects of the plea agreement.

"The judge was succinct in what he said," Martin said. "The judge told him he wasn't going to be able to keep his residence."

Martin said Williams also filed tax returns under his mother's Social Security number between 1996 and 1999. During those years, Williams either signed the name "Sylvia Williams" or his name as "attorney in fact" to tax documents, according to the release.

Martin said the investigation, run cooperatively by the IRS, FBI, the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Inspector General, was not difficult despite its two-year length.

"The information was pretty forthcoming," she said. "And he (Williams) was cooperative during the investigation."

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