BALTIMORE — A Baltimore man was sentenced on Tuesday to a year in prison after officials say he spent his deceased mother's social security checks for more than 20 years.
According to his plea agreement, from September 1997 to January 2018, 66-year-old Wardell Lester, Jr., stole monthly Social Security Retirement Insurance benefit payments. He failed to notify the Social Security Administration that his mother had died in September 1997 and falsely reported that he spent the funds on her behalf.
As a result, he personally obtained approximately $223,655.
As the son and representative payee of his mother, he was charged with spending his mother’s retirement benefits on her behalf and was required to file annual reports that documented transactions using those funds. Each year, he provided falsified reports that detailed how he spent the funds.
In 2012, he elected to receive the money by direct deposit and records show he would withdraw virtually all of the funds each month.
In an interview with SSA OIG agents in January 2019, Lester admitted to spending his mother’s benefits on drugs and living expenses as well as falsifying benefit accounting forms.
At the end of the interview, he gave a written statement in which he apologized for the spending of the funds, but continued to spend the benefit payments until SSA terminated them in May 2019.
He is sentenced to one year in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.