New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the conviction of Leslie Schwinzer, of Knoxville, Tennessee, for stealing pension checks that were issued to her deceased mother. Schwinzer, 46, was sentenced July 14, 2022 to pay more than $56,000 in restitution and serve eight months of house arrest and two years of probation before the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan in United States District Court States for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville.
“Leslie Schwinzer lied about her mother’s death in order to collect her pension checks and steal from New York State’s retirement system,” DiNapoli said. “Through my partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, we uncovered this fraud, and Ms. Schwinzer has now been held accountable for her crimes.”
On March 10, 2022, Schwinzer pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. She admitted that she did not inform the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) that her mother died on July 3, 2018. All related payments should have ceased after the death from his mother. Instead, Schwinzer received $92,222.55 in pension checks and Social Security payments to a joint account she held with her mother that she was not authorized to receive.
Schwinzer kept withdrawing the money from the account until a bank representative contacted her on December 19, 2019 to tell her that the bank had been notified of her mother’s death. Schwinzer lied in response, stating, “No, she’s fine.”
The SSA recovered the funds it had contributed to the account after the death of Schwinzer’s mother.
This lawsuit is the result of a joint investigation by the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the Office of the Inspector General for Social Security Administration, and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee. .
Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has been committed to fighting public corruption and encouraging the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayers’ money by calling the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555, filing a complaint online at https://www.osc .state.ny.us/investigations, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.