Jurors in a New York court will see surveillance footage today of a man who allegedly dressed up as his dead mother for six years to cash her Social Security checks, even going as far as visiting the DMV for a new license in the get-up.
Thomas Prusik-Parkin is accused of collecting more than $115,000 on his mother Irene Prusik’s government benefits and rent subsidies for six years following her death in 2003.
In what the Brooklyn district attorney’s office called an “elaborate fraud,” Prusik-Parkin and an accomplice allegedly appropriated Social Security benefits, social service payments and a townhouse, all while Prusik-Parkin was dressed as his deceased 77-year-old mother.
An accomplice, Mhilton Rimolo, posed at Prusik-Parkin’s nephew when the duo went out in costume.
“These defendants ran a multi-year campaign of fraud that was unparalleled in its scope and brazenness,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement.
Prusik-Parkin and Rimolo initiated the crime by doctoring Prusik’s death certificate with a false Social Security Number and date of birth, which made it appear as though she were still alive, according to the indictment.
“In order to perpetuate the ruse, the defendants went as far as to dress Parkin up as his deceased mother, and visit the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew her driver’s license, where, incidentally, they were captured on surveillance video,” the DA’s office said.
Prusik-Parkin and Rimolo received Prusik’s Social Security benefits every month for six years, totaling $52,000. They also received $65,000 in rental assistance, according to the DA’s office.
The duo was eventually caught when they got into a real estate battle with the new owner of Parkin’s mother’s former home, which she had left to him. He had been unable to maintain ownership and the building was sold at a foreclosure auction.
When the new owner reported that to the DA’s office that he believed Prusik-Parkin had filed false affidavits, an investigation was opened. Prusik-Parkin surprised investigators when he agreed to have his “mom” meet with them.
“When prosecutors and detective investigators arrived, they found Prusik-Parkin dressed as his 77-year-old mother, wearing a red cardigan, lipstick, manicured nails and breathing through an oxygen tank,” the DA’s office said.
Prusik-Parkin and Rimolo were indicted in June 2009 on 47 counts that included grand larceny, conspiracy, forgery and criminal impersonation.
Rimolo pleaded guilty to grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument, for which he served less than a year in prison. Prusik-Parkin faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted.