FRESNO — Lorene Deanda, 64, of Ceres, pleaded guilty Monday to mail fraud in relation to her stealing more than $550,000 from recipients of Social Security and other government benefit funds, said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.
According to court documents, Deanda was employed by a charitable organization in Modesto and managed the organization’s representative payee program. This program assisted recipients of Social Security and other federal and state benefits who 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. However, from 2003 to May 2015, Deanda stole benefit funds from the beneficiaries’ accounts and spent the money on her own personal expenses, including for her personal credit card bills and residential mortgage. In total, Deanda stole over $550,000.
Deanda is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on July 24. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
This case came from an investigation by the Social Security Administration - Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Brittany M. Gunter are prosecuting the case.