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Woman admits to stealing over $290K in deceased mother's benefits

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Posted at 1:00 PM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 13:01:25-04

A woman is convicted of grand larceny after stealing over $290,000 benefits from her deceased mother's Buffalo Firemen's Pension Fund.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Pearlann MacVittie's felony conviction Thursday. They say she has been stealing from the pension fund since her mother's death 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."

Investigators say MacVittie's mother, Lola Martin, was the widow of Buffalo fireman William Martin. After her husband's death, Lola Martin was able to receive the benefits of her husband's pension fund during her lifetime.

MacVittie did not tell the Buffalo Firemen's Pension Fund when her mother died. Instead, MacVittie collected the benefits.

When Lola Martin died in 1983, she was receiving about $325 per month. The monthly benefits increased until MacVittie was receiving $935 per month. In total, she stole $291,070 from October 1983 through May 2016.

The fraudulent activity was discovered during an audit and investigation by the Comproller's Office.

MacVittie admitted to knowing she was not entitled to the money and to falsely signing her mother's name on yearly Acknowledgements of Pension Benefit forms. She said she made the handwriting look shaky to make it look like someone older was signing the forms.

MacVittie, 73, is expected to be sentenced to five years' probation on June 22.