A 77-year-old Bronx woman has pleaded guilty to illegally collecting more than half a million dollars in Social Security and Human Resources Administration benefits for decades -- spending the majority of that money at a casino, according to the prosecutors.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark announced Wednesday that Carmen Soto, who is also known by other aliases including Gloria Sanchez and Carmen Maldonado, was sentenced to five years probation. She pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny on May 11.
The case stems from an investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Inspector General that found that Soto defrauded the city’s Human Resources Administration of $266,479.40 and the United States Social Security Administration of $388,322.24.
“This sentencing should stand as a warning to those who are thinking of defrauding the Social Security Administration to receive benefits – we will hold you accountable. The Office of the Inspector General will continue to work to ensure the
integrity of SSA’s programs, which provide a critical safety net for those who qualify,” Sharon MacDermott, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Division, said in a statement.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
The probe found that in 1960, Soto was issued three Social Security numbers, under the names Carmen Soto, Gloria Sanchez, and Carmen Maldonado.
Soto was approved in 1994 under the Sanchez and Maldonado aliases after she applied for Social Security under all three names. She also obtained driver's licenses or non-driver IDs under all of the names, according to the district attorney's office. Additionally, the probe found that between Nov. 4, 1993 and April 1, 1996, Soto applied for and received HRA benefits under the multiple identities.
According to the district attorney's office, Soto also opened two separate bank accounts and two PO boxes to receive the Social Security payments. She also applied for an obtained passports under her name and aliases. Soto was caught after the DMV used facial recognition software when she went to renew one of her driver's license and her multiple identities were revealed.
“The defendant collected money under three different names, and carefully orchestrated a scheme to collect benefits she was not entitled to. The defendant was caught after she attempted to renew her driver’s license, and the Department of Motor Vehicles’ facial recognition software determined the defendant had multiple identities,” Clark said in a statement.
Aside from her five years' probation sentence, Soto was also ordered to pay restitution, which may prove difficult since she also admitted to that most of the money was spent gambling at a casino.