(CBS DETROIT) — A former branch manager who pleaded guilty to stealing Social Security Administration benefits from a deceased client is sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison.
Jeffrey Piecka, 46, of Midland, was convicted on Thursday of theft of public funds and identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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He pleaded guilty in December.
“The accused was in a position to protect the accounts of the bank’s customers and he abused this trust. It is also important to remember that stealing from government is stealing from the taxpayers who fund that government. Today’s sentencing reflects the seriousness of this offense,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison.
Court records indicate that Piecka, a former branch manager of JPMorgan Chase Bank, devised a scheme to steal $169,967 from the client’s bank account.
During his employment, Piecka searched for open accounts with little activity. He identified the client’s account and suspected the client was deceased, making changes to create online account access for himself.
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Officials say he “manipulated the bank account to create online account access for himself, and he proceeded to withdraw large sums of money from the account through various means, including making online payments. line to credit card companies, a utility company, his apartment complex, and his car lender.
According to a report by The Detroit News, more than 300 transactions were made on the account between May 2012 and June 2020.
Piecka is ordered to pay compensation to the social security administration.
“Mr. Piecka was in a position of trust; he abused it for his personal gain and stole over $169,000 in Social Security benefits. This sentence holds him accountable for his criminal actions,” said Gail S. Ennis , Inspector General of the Social Security Administration “My office will continue to work with the SSA to identify improper payments to deceased persons. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this individual and for protecting the integrity of the programs of the SSA.
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