Va. woman alleged to have failed to report mother's death, continued to collect $200K in federal benefits

By Noddy A. Fernandez | Nov 12, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Legal Newsline) – An Arlington, Virginia, woman is alleged to have wrongfully continued to collect benefits after her mother's death 20 years ago.

United States of America, on behalf of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, filed a complaint on Nov. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against Elizabeth V. Espiritu citing the False Claims Act.

According to the complaint, the defendant's mother, Maria T. DeLuciano, was a recipient of RRB survivor benefits that were paid monthly via an electric funds transfer into an account shared with the defendant. The suit states DeLuciano died in 1998 and the RRB was not informed of her death, which would have terminated the benefits.

The plaintiff alleges between June 1998 and January 2017, Espiritu wrongfully collected her mother's RRB benefits in an amount of $197,395.76. The suit states the defendant has failed or refused to return the wrongfully obtained money.

The plaintiff holds Espiritu responsible because the defendant allegedly made fraudulent omissions by accepting payments and failed to report her mother's death.

The plaintiff seeks judgment for all damages sustained and an award such other relief as the court deems just and proper. It is represented by U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger in Alexandria, Virginia.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia case number 1:18-cv-01360-AJT-TCB

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