A former Social Security Administration employee Wednesday admitted stealing about $176,000 in benefits designated for elderly and disabled beneficiaries while working in the agency’s Fountain Valley field office.
Rowena Isabel Lokeni, 36, of Garden Grove, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge John Walter is scheduled to sentence Lokeni on Jan. 6.
Between April 2017 through August of this year, Lokeni rerouted direct deposit Social Security payments of 10 beneficiaries to her personal bank account, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Lokeni, who had worked as an SSA service representative in the Fountain Valley office since 2008, quit her job shortly after she was arrested Sept. 6 on a grand jury indictment.
Eight of the 10 victims were supposed to be receiving disabled adult children benefits because they were unmarried adults who had a disability that began prior to their 22nd birthday, according to court documents. The ninth victim was supposed to be receiving disability insurance benefits, while the 10th victim was supposed to be receiving retirement insurance benefits, according to the plea agreement.