BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A 66-year-old Baltimore man will serve a year in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, after he was sentenced for stealing Social Security benefits intended for his mother, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Wardell Lester, Jr. stole nearly $224,000 in monthly benefits payments intended for his mother from September 1997 until January 2018 after he did not notify the Social Security Administration she had died September 1997, according to the statement. He falsely reported he spent the money on her behalf but was required to file annual reports documenting the transactions that used those funds, which were supposed to be spent on housing, food, and personal items, according to the statement.

Lester admitted to investigators in January 2019 that he spent the money on drugs and living expenses, as well as falsifying accounting forms. He apologized for the theft but continued to do so until the Social Security Administration terminated the benefits in May 2019.


CBS Baltimore Staff