(WTRF) — A 76-year-old woman has been ordered to repay $461,780 that she illegally took from the Veterans Administration over 48 years by impersonating her mother, who died in 1973.

Irene Ferrin, of Cincinnati, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati Thursday to five years of probation, including one year of home detention.

According to court documents, Ferrin’s mother was receiving widow’s benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs when she died in January 1973. Ferrin did not notify the VA of her mother’s death and kept receiving checks, forging her mother’s signature on the back.

In ensuing years, she led the VA to believe her mother was still alive. She sent fraudulent paperwork to the VA from 1982 until 2017 to keep the theft going.

“For nearly 50 years the defendant stole from the military veterans of this country and now, at this time of her life, is facing a criminal sentence,” said Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. “That’s not a legacy you want to leave for your loved ones.”

“Fraudulently obtaining benefits from the VA diverts valuable resources intended for deserving veterans and their families,” said Special Agent in Charge Greg Billingsley with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office. “The VA OIG appreciates the support of the US Attorney’s Office for their efforts to achieve justice in this case.”

Ferrin pleaded guilty in August 2022 to one count of theft of public money.