SCHENECTADY – A Schenectady woman received probation after admitting earlier to taking nearly $96,000 in her mother’s social security benefits after her mother’s death, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
She was also ordered to pay a total of $96,961 in restitution at the Friday sentencing.
Jody Lyons, 54, of Schenectady, pleaded guilty earlier to theft of government property.
Lyons admitted that she continued to withdraw Social Security survivor’s benefits deposited in her mother’s bank account after her mother’s death in January 2015 and continued to do so until August 2018, officials said.
The government wasn’t notified of her mother’s death and the money continued to be deposited into her account, which Lyons had control of. Lyons withdrew the money and spent it, despite knowing she wasn’t entitled to it.
The government didn’t learn of her mother’s death until August 2018, when it discovered the death in an audit. In the meantime. Lyons took a total of $95,961, which she agreed to repay as part of her plea agreement.
Federal prosecutors argued for a sentence of 10 to 16 months in custody, along with one to three years of post-release supervision.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle, in the prosecution sentencing memorandum, called the proposed sentence severe “considering the duration of the criminal conduct and the amount of money the defendant stole.”
In the defense sentencing memorandum, Lyons’ attorney Brian Mercy wrote that Lyons had cared for her mother in her final years and that they had a joint account. But Mercy recounted that the money continued to be deposited in the account after the mother’s death.
Lyons “does not make any excuses for her actions in this case,” Mercy wrote.
“Jody Lyons did use that money to support herself in the years after her mother’s death,” Mercy wrote. “Ms. Lyons has admitted her guilt and is remorseful for her actions.
Mercy argued probation would allow her to work and to make restitution.
U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino imposed the probation and restitution sentence Friday.
The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle.