Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Middlesex County man was indicted today for allegedly stealing $117,000 in Social Security benefits that continued to be paid for his mother for approximately 21 years after she died.
Officials say Andrzej Cesinski, 63, of Dunellen, was indicted by a state grand jury on charges of second-degree theft by unlawful taking and third-degree forgery.
According to authorities, Cesinski’s mother was receiving Social Security benefits at the time that she died in 1997 in Poland. The SSA was not notified of her death and continued to pay benefits into her bank account in the U.S. until it learned of her death and stopped payments in 2018.
It is alleged that Cesinski fraudulently drafted checks against his deceased mother’s bank account each month made payable to himself. As a result, Cesinski allegedly stole a total of approximately $117,000 in Social Security benefits.
“We allege that Cesinski’s fraudulent conduct continued for 21 years, during which he stole over $5,000 per year in Social Security benefits,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Cesinski is charged with stealing funds that should have stayed in the system for honest retirees who earned their benefits.”
“We will continue to work closely with the SSA Office of the Inspector General to protect the Social Security program from those who would steal benefits,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We send a strong deterrent message by aggressively prosecuting alleged offenders like Cesinski.”
“Today’s indictment should serve as a warning to those who choose to selfishly defraud the Social Security Trust Fund,” said John F. Grasso, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Division. “The Social Security Office of the Inspector General vigorously pursues these cases, and we will continue to work jointly with other law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute fraud perpetrators in the future. I strongly encourage the public to report suspected instances of Social Security fraud to the OIG’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report.”
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.