Janesville woman, 83, sentenced for $80,641 in Social Security fraud

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Kevin Murphy/Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MADISON--An elderly Janesville woman convicted of fraudulently collecting more than $80,000 in Social Security benefits under two names for at least 20 years was placed on two years' probation Tuesday in federal court and ordered to repay the Social Security Administration.

Mae Braxton, 83, also known as Baby Leavy was born in Mississippi, where her first name was recorded on her birth certification only as Baby, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Connell said.

She married a man named Braxton and worked “a long time.” When she began to draw Social Security benefits, she did so under two names--Mae Braxton and Baby Leavy, Connell said.

Braxton had driver's licenses under both names but each license had the same date of birth and street address, Connell said.

A routine audit by the Social Security Administration discovered the similarities between Braxton and Leavy, and a check of the photographs on the licenses indicated one person using two names, Connell said.

The Social Security Administration stopped Braxton's benefits last year and turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Connell said.

“She was confronted and admitted to drawing benefits under both names for a number of years,” Connell said.

Individuals accused of fraud totaling more than $5,000 typically are charged with felonies, but John W. Vaudreuil, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, was not going to put an 83-year-old woman in jail, Connell said.

“It's not the best use of law enforcement resources,” he said. “She is competent and cooperative, but she's an elderly lady, and the case called for a misdemeanor if she agreed to repay what she owed.”

After pleading guilty in June to misdemeanor embezzlement of public funds, Braxton's benefits were restored with $400 withdrawn monthly toward her court-ordered restitution of $80,641.

On Tuesday, Braxton faced an advisory sentence of 12 months due to the amount of fraud and the extended period over which it occurred. However, Magistrate Stephen Crocker said no jail time was warranted because Braxton is a caretaker for another individual and has no real criminal history.

Braxton said, “I'm sorry, I'm really sorry.”

Braxton's two years on supervised release has standard conditions including periodic drug testing.

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