|Jury Convicts Conroe Woman of Defrauding the Government
HOUSTON August 19, 2019 - A 51-year-old resident of Conroe has been found guilty of making false statements on Social Security forms, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick along with Special Agent in Charge Adam D. Schneider of the Social Security Administration – OIG (SSA-OIG), Dallas Field Division.
The jury deliberated for nine hours before convicting Wanda Skilton yesterday following a three-day trial.
“The jury delivered a strong message that making false statements won’t be tolerated,” said Schneider. “The verdict should serve as a warning to those who choose to selfishly defraud the SSA. My office will ensure these cases are vigorously pursued and will continue to work jointly with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute fraud perpetrators.”
In 2010, the SSA appointed Skilton to receive benefits on behalf of her minor son. On June 5, 2017, Skilton submitted annual reporting forms on which she lied about her son’s living arrangements and how she was using her son’s benefits.
She claimed he was living with her and that she was spending his benefits on his care and support. At trial, the jury heard Skilton had claimed she was sharing custody equally the child’s father.
In truth, her son had been living with his father since August 2014.
Skilton was using his benefits for her own living expenses.
Further testimony revealed that Skilton had dropped her son off with his father in August 2014 and has not had custody of him more than occasional visits since that time. The boy’s father advised the jury that he has paid for his son’s living expenses since his son moved in with him.
The defense attempted to convince the jury she had custody of her son more than just occasionally and could have been confused by the questions on the forms. They did not believe her claims and found her guilty of two counts of making false statements.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller presided over the trial and set sentencing for Nov. 14, 2019. At that time, Skilton faces up to five years in prison, a possible $250,000 maximum fine and may be required to make restitution to the Social Security Administration.
Skilton was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
SSA-Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted the investigation.
Any suspected instances of Social Security fraud should be reported to the SSA-OIG’s fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or online.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Sandel and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman prosecuted the case