Idaho woman pleads guilty in veterans benefits ruse

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A southwest Idaho woman whose grandmother received benefits as the wife of a deceased veteran has admitted to collecting about $91,000 by not reporting her grandmother’s death.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael Gonzalez announced Thursday that 51-year-old Wendy Ann Payne of Emmett pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to theft of government money.

Authorities say Payne’s grandmother passed away in 2009 and that Payne intentionally avoided informing the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Authorities say Payne called the agency and pretended to be her deceased grandmother as part of the ruse.

Payne is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 10 and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She has agreed to pay back the money she stole.