A Berwick woman must pay $60,000 in Social Security fraud

A Berwick woman must pay nearly $60,000 in Social Security and public housing benefits after admitting she hid her husband’s income and presence in their home for more than a decade.

Chief Judge John Levy sentenced Andreana Politano, 60, to three years of probation in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Politano must also 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 in September to Social Security fraud and theft of government money, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“The defendant admitted that she lied about her husband’s presence in the family because she did not want his payments to stop,” the prosecution said in court documents.

He also admitted in an affidavit that he “was afraid of being caught and knew he was committing a crime.”

According to court records, between October 2008 and August 2020, Politano concealed her husband’s presence in the household to maintain her eligibility for Supplemental Security Income benefits paid to low-income people who are blind, disabled or elderly.

Politano also hid her husband’s presence from HUD from January 2018 to June 2021, during which time he received subsidized housing vouchers.

Politano’s husband had enough income to keep her from receiving the benefits she received, prosecutors said.

In an interview with investigators, Politano admitted that during multiple reviews of her eligibility status, she falsely represented that she and her husband had separated in October 2008 and had been living separately since then.

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After becoming disabled in September 2006, Politano declared in her 2005 application for Social Security benefits that she was married and living with a husband who earned between $1,600 and $2,000 a month, court records show.

The Social Security Administration informed her in June 2007 that the amount of her allowance was reduced due to her husband’s income. She then informed the agency that as of October 10, 2008, her husband was no longer part of her family.

The fraud was uncovered in July 2020 when her husband applied for retirement benefits using the same address as the Social Security file for Politano. His work history shows he has been using the same address since 2008, court records show.

In an August 2020 admissibility hearing, Politano said her daughter left home on February 1 of that year, and her husband returned to 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 returning to her. He said he continued to use the Berwick address because “it was easier and he could come see his daughter and get his mail at the same time,” court records state.

In a November 2020 interview with investigators, Politano admitted that her husband had lived with her for the previous 18 years and that they had lived together at their current residence for 15 years.

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