A Philadelphia woman has admitted that she staged her death seven years ago
to cash in on her pension.
The woman, 52-year-old Charlotte J. Mears, retired from the Pennsylvania Liquor
Control Board in 1989. Authorities said she created a phony death certificate
on a home computer in 1996, sent it to the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement
System, then forged the signatures of her mother and son on checks for the nearly
$16,000 in her pension account.
She was getting away with it, prosecutors said, until she applied for Social
Security benefits. When administrators with the Social Security Administration
called to verify that Mears was still receiving her monthly pension checks,
they were told she was dead. "They said: 'How could she be contacting us
if she's dead?' " said Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Attorney General Mike
Mears was arraigned recently on charges that included theft and forgery, and
released on $25,000 bail.