Melbourne Man Sentenced To More Than Three Years In Federal Prison For Stealing Social Security Benefits

Sep 28, 2023

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida

Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza has sentenced Tommy Mendez (42, Melbourne) to three years and one month in federal prison for theft of government funds. As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $173,125, the proceeds of the theft of government funds. Mendez had pleaded guilty on July 3, 2023.

According to court documents, Mendez applied for child auxiliary benefits, which are Social Security benefits due to children of deceased wage earners, on behalf of his minor child. Mendez also applied for a separate monthly benefit due to the surviving spouse of a deceased wage earner with a child-in-care. On the applications, Mendez falsely claimed that the eligible child was living with him. Mendez’s applications were approved, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) paid both monthly benefits to Mendez. Mendez misused the child auxiliary benefits received on behalf of his minor child for his own personal expenses and was never entitled to the child-in-care benefits because the minor child did not live with him. In total, Mendez received $173,125 in SSA benefits to which he was not entitled.

“Mr. Mendez fraudulently obtained Social Security benefits for himself and a minor child by falsely reporting information to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This prison sentence holds Mr. Mendez accountable for using fraudulently obtained benefits as his own personal slush fund,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the SSA. “I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler for their efforts in prosecuting this case.”

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler.

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