Guilty pleas in case of cashing dead man's checks for 15 years

PORTLAND, Ore. - A woman who hid a man's death and cashed $200,000 worth of his Social Security checks over 15 years pleaded guilty in federal court Monday.

Carel June Cody, 47, of Cottage Grove pleaded guilty to bank fraud, theft of government funds and aggravated identity

Cody admitted stealing John Arnold's benefits since 1996, forging the man's signature on checks payable to herself, and lying to a federal agent to conceal the man's death.

Cody has remained in custody since her arrest in May 2012.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 29, 2013, at 9 a.m.

According to documents filed by the government,

Cody was the caregiver for Arnold when he died sometime between 1994 and 1996, prosecutors said.

Instead of alerting authorities, Cody enlisted the help of others to bury his body on private property and conceal his death.

Since that time, she has been stealing Arnold's Social Security benefits, proseuctors said.

The investigation regarding the death of Mr. Arnold was conducted by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, and to date no
charges have been brought against Cody related to the manner of Mr. Arnold's death or the disposal of his body, the U.S. Attorney for Oregon's office said.

The plea agreement anticipates that Cody's sentencing guideline range will be 21-27 months in prison, in addition to the 24-month mandatory prison sentence for aggravated identity theft.

The government will be seeking the maximum sentence under the sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said.

The plea agreement also requires Cody to pay $203,528 in restitution including relinquishing her federal retirement account of approximately $36,000 to the government to be applied towards her restitution obligation.

Cody's husband Ernest Cook pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and is scheduled to be sentenced July 30, 2013, at 10 a.m.