By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
FRANKLIN – A Franklin woman who admitted that she was working to feed her drug habit while receiving Social Security benefits for a mental health disability, was sentenced on Tuesday to federal probation for a year.
Tonya Dailey, 44, was not ordered to pay restitution, but if her reapplication for Supplemental Security Income benefits which was most
recently medically denied on Sept. 14, is approved, future payments will be garnished to offset the $30,230.78 she fraudulently received.
Dailey had received SSI benefits for more than 15 years, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by her lawyer Jeffery Levin, beginning
in June 2014. In June 2014, she met with a Social Security Administration representative, and reported that she lived in a mobile home in
Franklin, that a friend had purchased on her behalf, but was unable to document her statements. As a result, her SSI benefits were suspended
Based upon her concealment of income she earned working as a part-time bartender, SSA determined that she was ineligible for benefits from
June 2010 to August 2014, and was overpaid $30,230.78.
In asking for leniency, Levin cited Dailey's difficult upbringing and noted that she had moved from the greater Boston area where she grew up to escape the drug culture. Since relocating to Franklin, she had remained clean until her mother died in 2011, when she began abusing cocaine.
In addition to her mental health issues, Levin told the court that Dailey suffers from a host of physical ailments including arthritis, fibromyalgia, a perforated disc and carpal tunnel. She dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, but later earned her GED. In the wake of her arrest, she lost her job, her food stamps and fuel assistance and as a convicted felon her job prospects are slim, Levin said.
The prosecutor, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Burzycki, recommended the judge order Dailey to pay restitution arguing that the defendant fraudulently received additional income averaging $2,900 per month.
In support of restitution, Burzycki argued, that Dailey's claims that she will be unable to find work "should not insulate her from receiving an appropriate sentence for her crime."