Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011, the Justice Department declined to file criminal charges in two dozen cases in which retirement benefits were paid out to dead beneficiaries then spent by someone else. During the same period, prosecutors filed criminal charges or won convictions in 40 such cases, not including two others in which charges were dropped.
In several of the cases turned down for prosecution, including six-figure thefts, subjects admitted spending the money but told investigators that they didn’t know they weren’t entitled to the funds. Prosecutors say filing charges is more complicated than just proving the money is missing. They also have to show that the person who spent the money knew they were committing a crime.