TRENTON, NJ –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced on Thursday that a Hamilton woman has been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $268,000 by fraudulently collecting survivor benefits from her deceased husband’s pension for nearly 10 years after she remarried and allegedly knew she was disqualified for such benefits.
Sandra VonScheven, 44, was indicted by a state grand jury on a charge of second-degree theft by unlawful taking. If convicted, she faces a prison sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000.
In November 2001, VonScheven allegedly began collecting survivor spousal benefits from the pension of her deceased husband, a retired municipal police officer. Surviving spouses are entitled to widow or widower’s benefits under the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System for life or until the surviving spouse remarries.
The Division of Pensions and Benefits notified the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) in November 2019 that VonScheven had continued to receive survivor spousal benefits from her late husband’s pension despite the fact that she remarried on January 15, 2010.
The Attorney General's Office alleges that VonScheven knew that her survivor benefits ceased when she remarried and nevertheless continued to receive the benefits every month until November 2019. In total, she received more than $268,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the OPIA and the Pension and Fraud Abuse Unit of the New Jersey Department of the Treasury’s Division of Pension and Benefits.
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