Upland: Former Defender Sentenced to One Year


Upland – An Upland attorney was sentenced this week to one year and one day in federal prison for stealing $129,795 from the Social Security Administration (SSA) after her grandmother died in 2000.

Audrey Owens, 61, was a deputy public defender for Riverside County, retiring just last September. She pled guilty in March to two counts of theft of government property, admitting that she swindled the government for 12 years. On Mon., June 2, Owens was sentenced by United States District Judge, Virginia A. Phillips.

According to court documents, from June 2000 through August 2012, Owens fraudulently obtained Social Security benefits intended for her grandmother, who died in May 2000. After her grandmother’s death, Owens changed the address of a joint account she shared with her grandmother and continued to receive the dead woman’s payments.

Owens “devised and executed a plan to illicitly obtain significant amounts of SSA benefits intended for her deceased grandmother,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed with the court. “Indeed, within just one week of her grandmother’s death, [Owens] sprang her plan into action by immediately removing her father’s name off of the [grandmother’s] Kansas City account and changing the address of record to her own address in Upland. This allowed her to continue to receive SSA benefits, undetected, for over 12 years, totaling more than $129,000. She was only stopped when SSA began to suspect fraud – otherwise, the theft would have likely continued indefinitely and resulted in even greater losses.”

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations.