Leominster Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing Social Security and Veterans Benefits

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Defendant unlawfully received over $300,000 in public funds

BOSTON – A Leominster woman pleaded guilty today in federal court in Worcester to stealing Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits.  

Joyce Progin, 71, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of public funds. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for Nov. 2, 2018. Progin was arrested and charged in January 2018.

In November 2009, Progin’s former father-in-law passed away. At the time of his death, the father-in-law was receiving monthly retirement benefits from Social Security and monthly benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Neither agency was advised of his death and continued to deposit his benefit payments into a bank account he held jointly with Progin, who was his caregiver. Although she admitted knowing that she was not entitled to the money, from November 2009 through March 2017, Progin received approximately $55,267 in Social Security benefits, and from November 2009 through November 2017, she received approximately $269,978 in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, in total, stealing over $300,000 in public funds.

The charge of theft of public funds provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; and Sean Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office, made the announcement today. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Burzycki of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.