Rare Prison Sentence in Detroit for Stealing Social Security

Stole mothers identity to continue receiving benefits

A judge has ordered a rare prison sentence in a case of Social Security fraud in southeastern Michigan.

Sandra Sarnowski’s mother died in 1998, but she continued to collect her benefits for 15 years. The total: $308,000.

The 65-year-old Sarnowski was sentenced Thursday to a year and a day in prison. She’ll get credit for good behavior, which means she’ll likely spend less than a year behind bars.

Federal Judge Mark Goldsmith says a prison sentence was appropriate to dissuade others who might consider stealing from the government. Sarnowski cried and said she’s “deeply sorry.”

Prosecutor Ryan Particka noted that Sarnowski isn’t broke. For years, she’s owned a northern Michigan condominium. It’s now the market for nearly $400,000 to repay the government.

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