Judy Dinsmore was indicted in January and pleaded guilty in May to one count of theft of Social Security benefits. She received the 30-month prison sentence in U.S. District Court on Monday.
Judge Ronnie Greer also ordered Dinsmore to pay $167,486 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and serve three years probation upon her release from federal prison. She faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to court records, Dinsmore cashed the checks of her husband’s aunt who had died in 1982 at the age of 74. The aunt lived with Dinsmore and her husband at the time.
After the aunt died, none of her relatives informed the SSA of the death and the SSA continued to send checks to her at Dinsmore’s residence until November 2011.
The SSA sent 347 monthly checks to the home for 29 years, each time Dinsmore took the check to the Greene Farmers Co-Op in Greeneville, forged the aunt’s name and cashed the checks. Prosecutor say the checks totaled more than $167,000.
This is not the first time Dinsmore has engaged in such fraudulent activity.
In 2004, Dinsmore was sentenced to five months in federal prison after pleading guilty the prior year to a similar scheme regarding a different deceased relative.
In that case, Dinsmore submitted a false statement to the SSA in support of an application for benefits for another aunt, who died in December 1982. Prosecutors say Dinsmore received just over $75,000 in SSA benefits over a 13.5 year period.
The total loss caused by Dinsmore to the SSA is estimated to be approximately $250,000.
Greer noted during sentencing that the need to promote respect for the law was profound in Dinsmore’s case, as demonstrated by the repeat nature of her offenses, the 30-year duration of her offenses, and the volume of the offenses committed.