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May 15, 2012 7:09 PM

2 Tucsonans sentenced for defrauding the elderly, embezzling from the dead

TUCSON - A Tucson brother and sister have been sentenced to years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges related to stealing social security benefits from nearly 800 elderly and disabled people.

Robert Skaggs, 58, received a sentence of nine years in federal prison, and his sister, JoAnn Skaggs, 54, got a sentence of nearly six years. They have also been ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution to more than 750 victims.

The federal indictment alleged that the Robert Lee Skaggs was the owner of Scope Payee Services, which misused over $5 million of beneficiary funds and created a variety of false documents to hide the misuse. Jo Ann Skaggs allegedly worked as a payee coordinator.

The Attorney General's Office also accused the two of embezzling money from accounts of people who died while Scope was their representative payee.

"Over 750 elderly and disabled people relied upon the business operated by the Defendants to act as their representative payee, to hold their money in trust," said United States Attorney Dennis K. Burke. "The alleged misuse of these funds resulted in losses of over $1.3 million from people who were among the most vulnerable in our society."

The two previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud, and conversion of payee funds.

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