A Moline woman, Michelle Crowell, 48, of the 200 block of 31st Avenue, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on Dec. 14, 2021, for stealing public money, specifically Social Security and Disability benefit payments.
Crowell had pleaded guilty to the offense on Aug. 5, 2021, according to a U.S. Department of Justice release Thursday. The government presented evidence at sentencing establishing that Crowell had accessed her deceased mother’s bank account on a recurring basis over a four-year period and had stolen Social Security and Disability benefits meant for her mother, resulting in a total loss of $36,087 to the Social Security Administration.
At Crowell’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Sara Darrow stated that Crowell’s offense was a crime of opportunity that came at a great cost to the public.
“Programs such as Social Security serve an important purpose in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “When individuals such as the defendant defraud these types of programs, they harm those who are most in need.”
The statutory penalties for theft of public money include up to 10 years in prison and not more than three years of supervised release.
The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Grant Hodges and Jennifer Mathew represented the government in the prosecution.