By Darren Siewert

A 54-year-old Wausau woman will spend 18 months in federal prison for illegally receiving disability benefits, according to a U.S. Dept. of Justice news release.

Marjean Seehafer was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 18 months in federal prison for making false statements and representations in order to receive Social Security Disability benefits for which she was not eligible. Seehafer pleaded guilty to this charge on Aug. 14.

Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, said Seehafer received monthly disability benefits from Social Security from 2016 through 2018, based on her false representation that she was unable to work due to her disability. During this same time, Seehafer was actually employed by various Wausau area companies, earning a salary.

When initially confronted by Social Security officials, Seehafer claimed her identity was stolen and someone was working under her name. When investigators for the Social Security Administration contacted employers and obtained photographs of the employee, those photos matched Seehafer, the DOJ release states. Once confronted with the photographs, Seehafer admitted that she was working while also collecting disability payments from the government.

At sentencing, Judge Peterson explained that a period of incarceration was warranted based on Seehafer’s long history of similar fraud and theft offenses for which terms of supervision or probation proved unsuccessful at stopping her pattern of conduct. In addition to the 18 months in federal prison, Judge Peterson ordered that Seehafer serve three years on supervised release and pay $28,112.50 in restitution to Social Security.

The charge against Seehafer was the result of an investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration.  The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Anderson.