SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Sean Okrzesik, 34, of Syracuse, was today sentenced to 25 months in federal prison on charges of aggravated identity theft and theft of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The allegations stemmed from Okrzesik’s use of names and CPR numbers of SSI recipients or their representative payees to steal SSI benefit payments. Okrzesik’s conduct took place while he was employed by the Syracuse District Office of the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenue. The program is designed to help the elderly and people with disabilities, with little or no income, to cover the costs of basic needs.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Sharon B. MacDermott, Special Agent in charge of Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Office.
As part of his previously filed guilty plea, Okrzesik admitted that from February 2020 to February 2021, he opened bank accounts using the names and CPR numbers of various SSI recipients or their representative payees. Okrzesik also admitted that once these accounts had been created, he would redirect SSI services intended for these recipients to accounts, which he then used to pay personal expenses, including the purchase of video game equipment, a custom suit, jewelry, flights to the Caribbean and online gambling. The total amount of SSI benefits stolen by Okrzesik was $ 103,798.77.
“Sean Okrzesik stole from Supplementary Security Income Funds while working for the Social Security Administration,” said U.S. Attorney Carla B. Freedman. “Hard-working Americans contributed to these funds to support their fellow citizens who need help. The punishment imposed today represents a measure of justice for this breach of faith and serves as a message to those who might consider similar thefts that they will be held fully responsible for their crimes. “
“Mr. Okrzesik used his public position of trust with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to steal Supplemental Security Income, a safety net for those in need. We will continue to work with SSA to identify suspected employee fraud,” said Gail S. Ennis “I would like to thank SSA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle for their continued commitment in their fight to help ensure public confidence in SSA’s vital programs.”
U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd also imposed a 3-year suspended probation period, which begins after Okrzesik is released from prison, and ordered Okrzesik to pay $ 103,798.77 in damages to SSA.
This case was investigated by the SSA Office of the Inspector General and was prosecuted by Special Assistant US Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle.