Westwego Woman Charged with Theft of Government Funds

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, January 18, 2023

NEW ORLEANS – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that PENELOPE PASSERO (“PASSERO”), age 48, of Westwego, Louisiana, was indicted on January 12, 2023   for Theft of Government Funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641.

According to the indictment, from February 2016 to December 2020, PASSERO knowingly accessed and converted approximately $59,320.97 in Social Security Administration and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES ACT”) funds.

U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

On May 17, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources, and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of fraud related to COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit.