LYNCHBURG, Va. (WRIC) – Two Virginia women pleaded guilty last week to stealing more than $170,000 in Social Security retirement funds after making a false application in their incarcerated family member’s name.

According to court documents, in August 2020, Betty Gowen contacted the Social Security Administration (SSA) to apply for Title II Retirement Insurance Benefits upon her release from prison. Gowen had been incarcerated since 2011 for the murder of her husband.

But when SSA officials received Gowen’s application, there was a problem. Gowen’s daughter, 58-year-old Judith Cash of Shipman, Virginia, and granddaughter, 38-year-old Christy Bowling of Hurt, Virginia, had already applied for and had been receiving Gowen’s retirement benefits for a decade.

SSA determined that Cash and Bowling stole $172,952 since 2010, and had been sharing the funds through the same bank card.

Bowling pleaded guilty to concealment of bankruptcy assets and theft of government money. She was recently sentenced to two months in federal prison and one year of home detention. Cash pleaded guilty in May 2022 to one count of theft of public money and was sentenced to one year of home detention.

The court also ordered the mother and daughter to pay the amount they stole back in restitution.