A Garden Grove woman was sentenced Monday to 15 months in federal prison after stealing over $176,000 in Social Security benefits from disabled and elderly beneficiaries, federal prosecutors said.
Rowena Isabel Lokeni, 36, was hired by the Social Security Administration in 2007 as a lead customer service representative, giving her access to the electronic records of SSA beneficiaries, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Between April 2017 and August 2019, Lokeni accessed the database and changed the direct deposit bank accounts and routing numbers for 10 victims to reflect her own personal bank account information, authorities said.
Lokeni resigned from the administration shortly after her arrest last September and plead guilty to one count of wire fraud in October.
Many of Lokeni’s victims have severe intellectual disabilities and were staying at adult care facilities, according to the DOJ.
She was able to obtain approximately $176,015 in Social Security payments.
“Lokeni’s actions evinced an utter disregard for the responsibility of her position, for the hardworking Americans who pay their fair share to sustain the SSA program benefits, and for the most vulnerable members of society,” the prosecution wrote in sentencing memorandum.