Norcross woman took $400K in retirement funds from dead mom’s account

A Norcross woman has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing nearly $400,000 in federal retirement benefits.

According to U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Deborah West “for 15 years shamelessly stole from the federal retirement system, taking what she never worked for and never earned.”

Yates said West’s parents were both federal employees who received federal retirement benefits.

West’s father died in 1980, and his benefits were legitimately transferred to West’s mother, Yates said. West’s mother died in 1993, and all benefits should have ended at that time, according to Yates.

“However, the federal government never learned of the death and continued to pay the benefits directly to the mother’s bank account,” Yates said in a statement released Wednesday morning. “The defendant stole those benefits by writing checks to herself from her deceased mother’s bank account, forging her mother’s signature and keeping the money for herself.”

Yates said that between 1993 and 2008, West, 64, stole more than $398,000 in federal benefits.

West was convicted in June after pleading guilty, and was sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. to 18 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution of $398,773.96.

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