A Nigerian refugee faces as much as six months in jail after pleading guilty on Thursday in Minneapolis to using two different identities so that she could hide some income and qualify for public rent subsidies.
Oluremi George, 49, of Woodbury, said she entered the United States as a refugee in 1991 and applied for Social Security using the name under which she was charged. But that actually is an alias because she feared retribution as a refugee, she said.
In 1996, she said she applied for another Social Security card under her birth name, Victoria Ayoola. She said she used both names at two jobs, filed taxes under both names, and maintained two different Social Security cards and two different driver licenses.
George said she was unemployed when she applied for a low-income housing unit at Pondview Townhomes in Woodbury. But by 2011, she was making more than $55,000 a year between two jobs, one with the secretary of state's office. The housing program has an income limit of $35,280. George admitted that she reported income from just one of her two jobs to remain qualified for the rent subsidies and that she has received more than $18,000 in undeserved benefits since 2004.
"I know I'm wrong, ma'am," she told U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen. "I'm very sorry."
George pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and making false statements to the government. She has agreed not to appeal if her sentence is less than six months.
Dan Browning 612-673-4493