Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Woman Gets 3 Years for Fraud, Steals Dead Grandma's Checks

It might sound like a victim-less crime to collect checks from the government on behalf of a deceased person, but law enforcement officials take this act quite seriously.

It is, after all, a crime.

And the name of the crime is "fraud."

A 60-year-old Philadelphia woman learned that lesson this week, when she was sentenced on Monday for stealing $222,000 in government issued checks to her dead grandma, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Doris Whitfield Richardson is now facing 33 months in prison. According to The Inquirer, Richardson pocketed all the checks coming to her dead granny, including veterans, housing, pension and Social Security checks.

As if it weren't enough for her to cash the checks, she actually went through the great length of creating a fake ID with her photo over granny's name.

Let's talk a bit about the crime of "fraud." The word "fraud" is a broad, catch-all phrase, referring to the intentional deception by a person or entity towards another for personal or monetary gain.

Richardson claimed that she needed the money because she was the sole provider for her grandchildren. Nevertheless, her sob story wasn't an excuse for the crime, the prosecutors noted.

The problem for Richardson was that her fraud extended to federal benefits. Fraud is a catch-all term and under criminal law, what that typically means is that the crime is codified under several different laws.

She cashed checks for federal benefits and that brought her under the jurisdiction of the federal courts and the U.S. Attorney. Federal courts aren't very lenient and have a reputation for having stiffer penalties.

As for her claim that she needed the money to help her family, the judge asked "Did it ever occur to you to go out and get a job?"

Had she given that any thought, instead of collecting checks, she may have avoided three years in jail.

Related Resources:

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  • Freddie Mitchell Accused of Tax Fraud Scheme (FindLaw's Philadelphia Criminal Law News)