Feds recommend prison time for elderly Detroit-area woman who stole $440,000 from Social Security

The government is recommending a prison term for a Detroit-area woman who stole more than $440,000 over 30 years by cashing Social Security checks issued to her late grandmother.

It’s the largest case of Social Security theft in eastern Michigan in more than five years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Andrea Billingsley-Jamison, 63, pleaded guilty in March 2020 to stealing government money, but her sentence has been delayed because of the coronavirus. She’s due in federal court on July 21.

Her grandmother died in 1987, but the government apparently wasn’t aware and kept sending Social Security checks.

The government is recommending a prison sentence at or near the bottom of the guidelines, which in this case is 18 months.

"Regardless of the defendant’s age and health, this was a long-running fraud with a very substantial loss and should be punished as such," prosecutors Ryan Particka and Corinne Lambert said in a court filing.

Billingsley-Jamison’s attorney acknowledged that the government’s loss was "substantial" but said prison isn’t necessary for the first-time offender.

Billingsley-Jamison used the money to support her parents, her daughter and a gambling addiction, lawyer Nancy McGunn said in a May 28 court filing.

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"The investigation and resulting criminal case have been more than enough to deter Ms. Billingsley-Jamison from future criminal conduct," McGunn said. "This case has been a constant source of stress for her. She is ashamed of her behavior, and terrified at the prospect of going to prison."