Poway man pleads guilty to taking $830,238 in benefits intended for his dead mother


Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A Poway man who covered up his mother’s death for more than three decades to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in government benefits pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal money laundering and Social Security fraud charges.

According to the United States Attorney’s OfficeDonald Felix Zampach, 65, raised $830,238 for his mother after her death in 1990.

Zampach impersonated her mother on official forms to keep receiving her benefits, including forging her signature on eligibility certificates and filing falsified tax returns in her name, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Zampach also laundered the stolen funds to pay the mortgage on her home and used her mother’s identity to open accounts at at least nine financial institutions, causing them to lose more than $28,000.

In a statement, San Diego U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said, ‚ÄúThis crime is believed to be the largest and longest-running fraud of its kind in this district. This defendant was not just passively cashing checks mailed to his deceased mother. This was an elaborate fraud that spanned more than three decades and required aggressive action and deception to sustain the ruse.”

Zampach is scheduled to be sentenced in September. As part of his plea agreement, he is expected to pay more than $830,000 and forfeit his home in order to make restitution, the US Attorney’s Office said.

The City News Service contributed to this article.

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