Mar. 18—A Berwick woman must repay nearly $60,000 in Social Security and public housing benefits after admitting that she hid her husband’s income and presence in their home for more than a decade.
Chief Judge Jon Levy sentenced Andreanna Politano, 60, to three years of probation in U.S. District Court in Portland on Thursday.
Politano also must pay restitution of $49,976 to the Social Security Administration and $9,164 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, court documents state.
Politano pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and theft of public money in September, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maine.
“The defendant admitted that she lied about her husband’s presence in her household because she did not want her payments to be shut off,” the prosecution said in court documents.
She also acknowledged in a sworn statement that she “was afraid of being caught and aware that she was committing a crime.”
According to court records, from October 2008 until August 2020, Politano concealed the presence of her husband in her household to maintain her eligibility for Supplemental Security Income benefits, which are paid to people with limited income who are blind, disabled or elderly.
Politano also concealed her husband’s presence from HUD from about January 2018 to June 2021, during which time she received subsidized housing vouchers.
Politano’s husband had sufficient income to render her ineligible for the benefits she received, the prosecution said.
In an interview with investigators, Politano admitted that in multiple reviews of her eligibility status, she falsely represented that she and her husband had separated in October 2008 and had lived separately since that time.
Found to be disabled in September 2006, Politano disclosed in her 2005 application for Social Security benefits that she was married and lived with her husband, who earned $1,600 to $2,000 per month, court records state.
The Social Security Administration notified her in June 2007 that her benefit amount had been reduced because of her husband’s income. She then informed the agency that, effective Oct. 10, 2008, her husband was no longer a member of her household.
The fraud came to light in July 2020, when her husband filed for retirement benefits, using the same address that Social Security had on file for Politano. His work history reflected that he had used the same address since 2008, court records state.
During an eligibility status review in August 2020, Politano said her daughter had moved out of her household on February 1 of that year, and her husband had moved back in with her on July 1.
She initially claimed that her husband had not lived with her for 14 or 15 years, and that he had lived in Massachusetts for a long time before moving back in with her. She said he continued to use the Berwick address because “it was easier and he would come up to see his daughter and get his mail at the same time,” court records state.
In an interview with investigators in November 2020, Politano admitted that her husband had lived with her for the previous 18 years, and they had lived together at their current residence for 15 years.