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Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Crystal Mebane McGinty, age 58, of Silver Spring, Maryland, with mail fraud, theft of government property, and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme to obtain over $517,000 of her deceased mother’s social security and City of New York teachers’ retirement benefits. The indictment was returned on July 31, 2018, and unsealed today. McGinty previously had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt and was released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration (SSA) – Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division.
“Criminals who lie, cheat, and steal to obtain benefits to which they are not entitled defraud not only the Social Security Administration, but all law-abiding citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Federal prosecution of these cases serves to punish the lawbreakers and to deter others who may be tempted to do the same.”
According to the three-count indictment and other court documents, McGinty’s mother was a Maryland resident who began receiving monthly retirement benefits from the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York (TRSCNY) in 1972, and began receiving Social Security Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB) in 1989. According to her death certificate, McGinty’s mother died of natural causes in 2005, and McGinty, a practicing physician, was listed as the informant on the death certificate.
The indictment alleges that from June 2005 through June 2018, McGinty did not notify TRSCNY or SSA that her mother had died. In addition, the indictment alleges that McGinty deposited her mother’s TRSCNY checks, which were mailed to McGinty’s home, into a bank account that McGinty maintained in her name, her mother’s name, and the name of her mother’s deceased husband. The checks bore her mother’s signature, which McGinty knew was forged. McGinty’s mother’s SSA RIB payments were also deposited into that bank account. Further, McGinty allegedly signed and submitted several proof-of-life forms to TRSCNY, including some in which she identified herself as her deceased mother’s physician, in order to continue to receive her mother’s retirement benefits. McGinty also allegedly called TRSCNY posing as her deceased mother and providing her deceased mother’s identifying information, in an effort to get pension benefits reinstated.
According to the indictment, McGinty routinely withdrew her deceased mother’s TRSCNY and SSA retirement benefits from the bank shortly after they were deposited, by direct debit, cash withdrawals, debit card transactions, checks, and transfers to family members. McGinty allegedly used the funds to pay utility bills, mortgage fees, credit cards, and other expenditures. According to court documents, the expenditures also included fees associated with renewing McGinty’s Health Professional License, tuition at a private high school in Washington, D.C., international and domestic travel, and a cruise vacation.
If convicted, McGinty faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for mail fraud; a maximum of 10 years in prison for theft of government property; and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the SSA Office of Inspector General for its work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davio, who is prosecuting the case.