West Seneca Woman Convicted of Stealing Nearly $300K from Firemen's Pension

Woman pretended to be her late mother, who died in 1983

Tom Puckett
April 06, 2017 - 12:52 pm

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) A West Seneca woman admits to stealing nearly $300,000 from the Buffalo Firemen’s Pension Fund by pretending to be her late 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.”

Prosecutors say MacVittie failed to notify the Buffalo Firemen’s Pension Fund of her mother’s death, and instead continued to collect benefits to which she was not entitled. At the time of Lola Martin’s death in 1983, she was receiving a pension benefit of approximately $325 per month from the Buffalo Firemen’s Pension Fund. Over the next 33 years, the monthly benefits increased, and by 2016 MacVittie was illegally collecting $935 per month.   The total amount stolen by MacVittie from October 1983 through May 2016 was $291,070.  

“Concealing the death of one's parent to steal from their pension shortchanges those who rely on these benefits -- in this case, brave firefighters and their families,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Today's conviction is evidence of our steadfast commitment to rooting out and prosecuting pension fraud.”

MacVittie’s decades-long fraud was uncovered by an audit and investigation conducted by the New York State Comptroller’s Office.  When confronted with the evidence of her theft, MacVittie admitted that she knew that she was not entitled to the pension benefits after her mother died, and that she had falsely signed her mother’s name on yearly Acknowledgments of Pension Benefit forms, making the handwriting look shaky so that it appeared someone older had signed the form.

As part of her plea today to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, MacVittie signed a confession of judgment for the entire amount stolen. MacVittie, 73, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 22nd at 9:30 am. 

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