RALEIGH, N.C. — A military widow has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for falsely claiming to have a son so she could collect more than $100,000 in veterans and Social Security benefits, federal prosecutors say.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports a federal indictment accused 61-year-old Elizabeth Hayes Cox of stealing more than $68,000 in Social Security money and another $44,000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs between 2000 and 2017 on behalf of a fictitious son.
A 46-year-old Columbia Falls man has admitted overstating his disabilities to receive government payments for nine years
Prosecutors said Wednesday that Cox had married a disabled veteran while he was in prison and presented a fraudulent birth certificate to receive payments for their made-up dependent child named Oliver.
Cox's attorney, Kevin Marcilliat, asked for a more lenient sentence that would let Cox spend half the time at home with her daughter Aimee Newman, a retired Army captain.
But U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle focused his questions on Cox's relationship history, which includes a husband who was slain and a boyfriend lost to suicide.
He claimed to be a Navy veteran of Vietnam with two Purple Hearts.
Her husband, Randall Cox, was shot in the head at home in High Point in 2006, according to testimony. The case remains unsolved.
Cox said her boyfriend killed himself in the home they shared in 2014. Cox told Boyle she found him in the kitchen but did not know where he got the gun or what type he used.
Boyle ordered Cox to report to federal prison by the end of February and pay $113,000 restitution.