An Ohio woman who impersonated her dead mother for nearly 50 years has been ordered to repay $461,780 that she illegally took from the Veterans Administration.
Irene Ferrin, 76, of Cincinnati, was sentenced on Jan. 19 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to five years of probation, including one year of home detention.
“For nearly 50 years the defendant stole from the military veterans of this country and now, at this time of her life, is facing a criminal sentence,” said Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio in a statement. “That’s not a legacy you want to leave for your loved ones.”
The government’s sentencing memorandum states: “In 1973, a gallon of gas was 39 cents, ‘The Godfather’ won an Oscar, fax machines were an emerging form of technology, and the defendant, Irene Ferrin, was beginning an ongoing theft from the military veterans of this country that would last nearly half a century.”
According to court documents, Ferrin’s mother was receiving widow’s benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs when she died in January 1973. Ferrin did not notify the VA of her mother’s death and kept receiving checks, forging her mother’s signature on the back. In ensuing years, she led the VA to believe her mother was still alive. She sent fraudulent paperwork to the VA from 1982 until 2017 to keep the theft going.
She received more than 500 checks in total before being caught.
“Fraudulently obtaining benefits from the VA diverts valuable resources intended for deserving veterans and their families,” said Special Agent in Charge Greg Billingsley with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office.
Ferrin pleaded guilty in August 2022 to one count of theft of public money.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.