A federal judge in Portland sentenced the parents of two disabled children on Monday to five months in prison for conspiracy to defraud the Social Security Administration.

U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II identified the couple in a news release as Thomas Gerken, 63, and Jill Gerken, 62, of Topsham. The Gerkens have disabled, adult-age twin daughters.

The Gerkens pleaded guilty to the charge in January 2016.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced the Gerkens to five months in prison and three years of supervised release, with the first five months to be served in home detention. They were also ordered to pay $98,830 in restitution.

According to court records, the Gerkens applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits in 2004. SSI benefits are supposed to be paid to people who are blind, disabled or elderly for their own personal use. The diversion of funds took place between January 2007 and July 2013. At the time the fraud was committed, the Gerkens’ children were living full-time in an assisted living facility.

Delahanty said the Gerkens used the funds to pay for household expenses, including their mortgage, a home equity loan, utilities, groceries, travel, restaurant meals and books.

During that time, the Gerkens failed to pay the assisted living facility for expenses, even though Jill Gerken falsely certified to the Social Security Administration that she was spending the SSI benefits on food and housing at the assisted living facility.

Jill Gerken was designated as the representative payee for each child. As their payee, she was responsible for overseeing the funds to make sure the benefits went to her children.

“In pronouncing sentence, Judge Torresen described the Gerkens as greedy and said that a period of incarceration was necessary to reflect the seriousness of their offense, promote respect for the law, and provide adequate deterrence,” Delahanty said in a statement.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of Investigations conducted the investigation into the Gerkens’ case.

“Representative payee fraud is an egregious offense, not only because it involves the misuse of Social Security funds, but because it affects some of the most vulnerable members of society, who cannot manage their own affairs,” said Scott Antolik, the special agent in charge of the Boston Division of the SSA’s Office of Inspector General.

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