United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois

05/26/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/26/2019 16:43

Alton Woman Indicted for Cashing Deceased Mother's Social Security Checks

A federal grand jury for the Southern District of Illinois returned an indictment charging Mia Lynn Cousett, 32, of Alton, Illinois, with twelve counts of theft of government funds and one count of aggravated identity theft, announced Steven D. Weinhoeft, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The indictment alleges that the funds stolen were social security checks payable to Cousett's mother, who died in April 2017.

According to the indictment, for twelve months after her mother passed away, Cousett continued to cash her mother's social security checks and then used those funds for her own expenses. The total of the social security checks allegedly stolen by Cousett is $15,601. The indictment also charges that Cousett used her dead mother's driver's license number to conceal and perpetuate her thefts.

Each of the theft of government funds charges carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of two years of imprisonment. The arraignment for Cousett will be conducted on June 5, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in East St. Louis, Illinois.

An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

The investigation was conducted by agents from the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, Chicago Field Division, the United States Postal Inspection Service, Chicago Division, St. Louis Field Office, and the Alton Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.