By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal judge has ordered a nine-month prison sentence for a Philadelphia woman who cheated the Social Security system for more than 15 years.

Sophia Beltz admitted collecting more than $172,000 in Social Security benefits for her father for a decade and a half after he died.

When pressed in court by Judge Legrome Davis, her explanation was simple:

“Your honor, it… it was just… it was easy. There were situations happening financially and it was a big help.”

But a pre-sentencing report calculated Beltz’s net worth, including several properties, at more than $750,000. Judge Davis told Beltz her conduct needed punishment, although the sentence imposed was below the recommended federal guideline of 12 to 18 months in prison that was requested by the prosecution. Her defense attorney argued for probation or house arrest.

Beltz, who had not reported her father’s death to Social Security, was caught when Social Security checked on the benefits based on an age trigger.


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