Feds: Steilacoom woman who falsely claimed cancer diagnosis sentenced for defrauding Social Security, others

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TACOMA, Wash. — A 36-year-old Steilacoom woman was sentenced Monday to 60 days home confinement and 100 hours of community service for defrauding Social Security Disability and the Army’s health care system of more than $100,000 in benefits, U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes said.

“Maria Sanchez-Kountz pretended to have terminal cancer to secure prescription opiates and Social Security disability benefits,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle noted that Sanchez-Kountz is the solo parent to two children and imposed five years of probation and ordered her to pay $102,932 in restitution.

The U.S. attorney’s office said that between February 2012 and July 2016, Sanchez-Kountz received disability payments because she claimed she could not work due to terminal cancer. She was married at the time to a member of the Army, and was able to defraud the Army’s health care system, in addition to Social Security, the office said.

“In fact, Sanchez-Kountz was working for a Lakewood, Washington company as a seamstress during some of the period when she was collecting disability benefits. She even had a tailoring business that she promoted on a website by falsely claiming she was a cancer survivor,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.

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