A Queens man allegedly spent the last two decades cashing in on his dead mother’s name to steal more than $150,000 in government benefits, prosecutors announced on Thursday.
Mark Hodge, 60, of Cambria Heights faces up to 10 years in federal prison for committing the alleged fraud, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said on March 29.
“Month after month, for nearly two decades, the defendant allegedly stole government funds intended for his mother, who had died in 1999,” Donoghue said. “This office will hold responsible and prosecute those fraudsters who cash government checks meant for our nation’s retirees, veterans or the disabled.”
Federal prosecutors said that Hodge’s mother, at the time of her death, had been receiving monthly Social Security payments as well as benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of Personal Management.
According to law enforcement sources, the agencies were unaware of her death and continued making payments to her. Hodge, an MTA employee, allegedly failed to notify the agencies of his mother’s death and transferred the funds from a joint bank account in his name to his own personal checking account.
Prosecutors said the scheme continued through November 2016, when Hodge allegedly informed the Social Security Administration that his mother was alive, but hospitalized and could not be interviewed.
Hodge was eventually charged through an investigation that the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General conducted.