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Man sentenced for using late wife’s benefit checks

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A West Leyden man was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, to two years’ federal probation and was ordered to pay nearly $60,000 in restitution for collecting Social Security benefits intended for his dead wife.

Richard E. Cihocki, 73, pleaded guilty Oct. 18 to theft of government monies. According to a plea agreement filed with the court, Mr. Cihocki’s wife, Patricia, was receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration deposited directly into a checking account she shared with her husband. Following her death in May 2003, Mr. Cihocki failed to notify the administration of her death and the administration continued to deposit the money.

Mr. Cihocki admitted he withdrew $58,995 from the joint account for his own purposes, knowing he was not entitled to the money, according to the plea agreement. According to court documents, restitution payments will be deducted from Mr. Cihocki’s own Social Security benefits.

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