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Philipsburg woman sentenced to prison, owing over $140,000 in acts of fraud

Posted at 2:12 PM, Sep 01, 2022

A Philipsburg woman is sentenced to prison after admittedly lying about her income and resources in order to receive more benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), SNAP, and Medicaid for over 10 years.

Virginia Kathleen Pearson, 56 years old, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised release. According to U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich, Pearson must also pay full restitution of the $142,542 she accumulated from her fraudulent actions.

Pearson was approved for Social Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2008 and at this time reported that she lived in a home with her husband, Doyle Pearson. One month after Pearson received her first SSA payment, she reported that her husband no longer lived in the home with her. This resulted in her SSI benefits increasing significantly. Between the years 2008 and 2019, Pearson received 9 cost of living adjustments.

“Pearson knew she was obligated to truthfully report her income and resources but instead lied for more than a decade to boost her benefits. Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid are federal programs intended to help those truly in need and to ensure they get adequate care when they cannot afford it. Pearson’s conduct took assistance from others who were without options,” said U.S. Attorney Laslovich.

Doyle Pearson applied for Social Security retirement benefits in 2019 and reported that he was married and lived at the same address as Pearson. This led to an investigation that determined Pearson had been committing fraud in order to receive more benefits.

This case was investigated by the SSA Office of Inspector General and Montana Department of Health and Human Services, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter.