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Pennsauken Man Kept Father's Death Secret to Collect Benefits

Michael Shelton admitted Monday to collecting more than $200,000 in Social Security payments issued in the name of his deceased father.

For two decades, Michael Shelton amassed a small fortune cashing his dead father's Social Security checks—but the net result for him could be 10 years in federal prison. 

Shelton, 65, of Pennsauken, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Camden to one count of theft of government funds. Shelton entered his plea before his case was presented to a grand jury.

Shelton admitted that when his father died in March 1990, he intentionally did not notify the Social Security Administration (SSA), as he was obligated to do, so he could continue to receive his father’s SSA retirement checks.

SSA discovered Shelton's father's death in June 2012, at which time the deceased man was receiving $977 in monthly retirement benefits. 

After his father died, Shelton set up a direct deposit for the checks into a PNC Bank account in his father’s name, authorities said. Shelton acknowledged he had accessed that account at various times and used the money to pay for personal expenses. 

Shelton admitted that from March 1990 to July 2012, he collected a total of approximately $204,606 to which he was not entitled. 

Shelton faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when he's sentenced on Aug. 1 before Judge Jerome B. Simandle. 

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