Karen Silva-Brown of Methuen Pleads Guilty to Stealing Social Security Benefits

BOSTON – A Methuen woman pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to stealing Social Security benefits intended for her child.   

Karen Silva-Brown, 57 pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public funds before U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs, who scheduled sentencing for March 7, 2024. Silva-Brown was arrested and charged in November 2022.

In November 2014 through October 2018, Silva-Brown embezzled approximately $60,810 in Social Security benefits that were intended for her minor child. In March 2012, when Silva-Brown applied for and began receiving benefits on behalf of her child as a representative payee, the Social Security Administration (SSA) informed her of her obligation to notify SSA if her child left her custody. However, Silva-Brown did not notify SSA when she lost custody of her child in November 2014.

Instead, Silva-Brown provided two fraudulent accountings to SSA in June and July 2016 where she claimed that her child still lived with her and that she spent all the Social Security benefits she received for her child’s care. In reality, Silva-Brown used the vast majority of the stolen funds to pay her own bills.

The charge of theft of public funds provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy and Sharon MacDermott, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division made the announcement. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Nagelberg of the Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.