A 36-year-old Palmetto woman was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore to three years and three months in federal prison Wednesday.
According to a press release from the Middle District of Florida, Peggy Washington had been convicted of aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and making false statements to government agencies.
Washington worked with others to steal personal information from recipients of Social Security and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and then opened debit card accounts in those names, rerouting funds from benefit payments into those accounts to later be withdrawn.
She also used the information to file fake tax returns and cash in the refund checks, as well as submitted Section 8 housing applications while concealing her assets to receive more benefits.
The Court entered a money judgment of $36,355.93 and ordered Washington to pay restitution of $48,926.93, according to the release.
Washington was last arrested by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 26, 2013, on an arrest warrant for fraudulent use of an ID. She had been arrested the previous month on a grand theft charge and a criminal use of personal ID information charge, and has had a history of arrests related to theft and fraud.
Multiple federal agencies investigated the case, including the Social Security Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Agriculture. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric K. Gerard and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Timothy Loper prosecuted in the case.