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Woman admits to stealing dead mother’s benefits for 33 years

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A West Seneca woman has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $291,000 in her dead mother’s benefits from the Buffalo Firemen’s Pension Fund.

Pearlann MacVittie, 73, admitted to third-degree grand larceny after collecting money intended for her mother, who died in 1983.

“From the day her mother died, Pearlann MacVittie tarnished her memory by stealing $291,070 in pension checks in her mother’s name from the city of Buffalo’s Firemen’s Pension Fund,” said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “I thank my auditors and investigators for uncovering this brazen scam against the city and its taxpayers.”

MacVittie’s mother was the widow of William Martin, a Buffalo fireman. After she died, MacVittie never told the Buffalo Firemen’s Pension Fund that she was gone, and instead, illegally collected benefits that were meant for her mother.

The amount MacVittie was collecting every month started off at around $325 per month. As time went on, the monthly amount increased, eventually reaching $935 per month in 2016.

The fraud, which lasted for 33 years, was revealed by an audit and a New York State Comptroller’s office investigation. MacVittie knew what she was doing was illegal. Every year, she falsely signed her mother’s name on forms and made it look shaky, as if a very elderly person had signed it.

MacVittie will be sentenced to five years of probation on June 22.