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Ceres woman, 59, indicted for fraud

Lorene Deanda, 59, of Ceres, was arrested yesterday on an indictment charging her with 10 counts of mail fraud and one count of conversion of Social Security benefit funds, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. Deanda was charged by federal grand jury on Dec. 6.

According to court documents, Deanda was employed by a charitable organization in Modesto  where she participated and ultimately managed the organization’s representative payee program. This program assisted recipients of Social Security and other federal and state benefits that could not physically manage their own financial affairs. Deanda, on behalf of the charitable organization, would set up bank accounts for the beneficiaries and receive benefit funds into those accounts. Deanda’s duties included paying beneficiaries’ bills and necessities from those accounts and benefit funds. However, from April 2009 to May 2015, Deanda allegedly stole benefit funds from the accounts and beneficiaries and spent over $516,000 for her personal expenses.

The case is the result of an investigation by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Z. Carbajal III is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, the Ceres woman faces a maximum statutory penalty for mail fraud of 20 years in prison with a $250,000 fine and a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conversion of Social Security benefits. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of applicable statutory factors and the federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.