PORTLAND — A Saco woman pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court to charges related to Social Security benefits she received for her children when they were not in her custody.

Kelly McCabe, 36, of Saco, pleaded guilty to charges of Social Security fraud and theft of public money at U.S. District Court in Portland, according to a press release from the District of Maine U.S. Attorney’s office.

According to an affidavit by Joseph DeSantos, special agent with the Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration, McCabe had two children who were severely disabled.

The two girls, who were born in 2003 and 2005 were placed into custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in June 2012, according to McCabe. The Massachusetts DCF gained permanent custody of the two children in August 2013, and McCabe terminated her parental rights of the two children in July 2014.

A Massachusetts DCF social worker visited a Social Security field office to obtain Social Security cards for the two children and inquire about benefits they might qualify for. The social worker then learned that McCabe had been receiving Social Security benefits for the two children the entire time they were in Massachusetts’ state custody, according to DeSantos.

It was later discovered that McCabe collected a total of nearly $86,000 in Social Security benefits on behalf of her two children from 2012 to 2017, a time when they were not in her custody, according to DeSantos.

On Sept. 13, 2017, DeSantos and another investigator visited McCabe in a Portland homeless shelter where she was living at the time.

McCabe told the two investigators that the two girls came up to Maine for the weekends to stay at her mother’s house, and she had last seen them a week prior. McCabe said she was unaware that the state of Massachusetts had custody of her two children. According to investigators, she said prior to the summer of 2017, she would take a train to Boston twice a month to visit her daughters, each time spending from $200 to $300 on clothes, activities and food.

A social worker confirmed that according to a document dated July 25, 2017, McCabe hadn’t seen her two daughters since August 2015.

DeSantos interviewed a social worker on April 18, 2018, and was told that the most McCabe purchased for her daughters while visiting were some chips and crackers.

In the interview with the two investigators, McCabe did admit to using at least half her daughters’ benefits for personal use including $500 monthly for her mother’s rent, $70 for her monthly phone bill, purchasing a companion dog and $80 monthly for child support for her son who was living with McCabe’s mother.

McCabe faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for Social Security fraud and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for theft of public money charge. She also faces up to three years of supervised release. She will be sentenced after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: