A 51-year-old Brooklyn, New York, man has been sentenced to at least 13 2/3 years in prison for impersonating his deceased mother and collecting her Social Security payments in an attempt to win back the home she had given him.
When Thomas Parkin’s mother, Irene Prusik, died in 2003 at age 73, she and her son lived in a $2.2 million brownstone in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. Mrs. Prusik had deeded the house to Mr. Parkin in the 1990s, but he couldn't keep up with the mortgage payments. Eight months before Mrs. Prusik’s death, the house was sold at a foreclosure auction.
Following Mrs. Prusik’s death, Mr. Parkin and another man who posed as his nephew sued the new owner under Mrs. Prusik's name, claiming the sale was fraudulent in part because Mrs. Prusik was still alive. To keep the ruse going, Mr. Parkin doctored his mother’s death certificate and began impersonating her, donning a blond wig, dress and oversized sunglasses. Masquerading as his mother for six years he cashed her Social Security checks, totaling about $44,000, and even renewed her driver’s license in person.
In 2009 Mr. Parkin told the Brooklyn District Attorney's office that he and his mother were victims of real estate fraud because the house's new owner had illegally coerced him and his mother into selling, according to DNAinfo.com, a local news service.
Mr. Parkin invited investigators to meet with his mother at her home.
When the investigators arrived, according to the DNAinfo story, they found Parkin dressed as his mother, "wearing a red cardigan, lipstick, manicured nails, and breathing through an oxygen mask, according to the DA's office.” What Mr. Parkin didn’t know is that by this time investigators had proof that his mother was dead: a photo of her tombstone in a local cemetery.
It took a jury less than a day to find Mr. Parkin guilty of grand larceny and forgery, among other charges. He was later sentenced to 13 2/3 to 41 years in prison. At his sentencing, Mr. Parkin said he never hurt anyone or used the stolen money for personal gain.
For an Associated Press article article on the case in the Huffington Post, click here.