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Ex-Michigan Bank Manager Sentenced For Stealing Social Security Benefits From Dead Customer's Account

(CBS DETROIT) -- A former branch manager who pleaded guilty to stealing Social Security Administration benefits from a deceased customer is sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, 46-year-old Jeffrey Piecka, of Midland, was sentenced Thursday on charges of theft of government funds and identity theft.

He pleaded guilty in December.

"The defendant was in a position to safeguard bank customers' accounts, and he abused that trust. It is also important to remember that stealing from the government is stealing from the taxpayers that fund that government. The sentence today reflects the seriousness of this offense," said U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison.

Court records say Piecka, is a former JPMorgan Chase Bank branch manager, devised a scheme to steal $169,967 from the customer's bank account.

During his employment, Piecka searched for open accounts with little activity. He identified the customer's account and suspected the customer had died, making changes to create online account access for himself.

Officials say he "manipulated the bank account to create online account access for himself, and he proceeded to withdraw significant sums of money from the account by various means, including by making online payments to credit card companies, a utility company, his apartment complex, and his car lender."

According to a report from The Detroit News, more than 300 transactions were made on the account between May 2012 and June 2020.

Piecka is ordered to pay restitution to the Social Security Administration.

"Mr. Piecka was in a position of trust; he abused it for his personal gain and stole over $169,000 in Social Security benefits. This sentence holds him accountable for his criminal actions," said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. "My office will continue to work with SSA to identify improper payments to deceased persons. I thank the U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecuting this individual and protecting the integrity of SSA programs."

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