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Public defender accused of stealing nearly $130,000 in benefits

June 26, 2013|By Rick Rojas

A Riverside County public defender surrendered to federal officials Wednesday as she faces charges of collecting nearly $130,000 in Social Security benefits intended for her grandmother, who died more than a decade ago, authorities said.

Audrey Owens, 60, was charged in federal court earlier this month in an alleged scheme in which she fraudulently received federal aid benefits for 12 years, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

She could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors said that from June 2000 through August 2012, Owens took the Social Security benefits intended for her grandmother, who died in May 2000.

Prosecutors allege that after her grandmother's death,  Owens, who lives in Upland, changed the address of a joint account she shared with her grandmother and continued receiving these payments, accruing more than $129,000.

Prosecutors say that Owens used the money to pay bills and expenses, including contributions to the Riverside County Employee Campaign.

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Twitter: @rar

rick.rojas@latimes.com

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