Little Falls woman who hid dead body, stole Social Security benefits, sentenced to 2 years in prison

After pleading guilty to hiding a man’s dead body for several years, and conspiring with her daughter to steal his Social Security money, TammyLynn Sterling Barthelmess was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

Posted: Aug 5, 2020 5:28 PM
Updated: Aug 5, 2020 5:29 PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – After pleading guilty to hiding a man’s dead body for several years, and then conspiring with her daughter to steal his Social Security money, TammyLynn Sterling Barthelmess was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

In February, 62-year-old Barthelmess, of Little Falls, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal government funds and three counts of bank fraud.

She admitted to hiding her tenant’s body after he died, and working with her daughter, Shannon Hardy Sekel, to steal his Social Security retirement benefits by writing hundreds of checks from the account the funds were deposited into.

According to the Department of Justice, this went on from 2009 to 2013.

Donald Wichelns’ body was found in a dog crate behind an unoccupied home in Little Falls in May of 2013. Barthelmess says he died in 2006. She also admitted to making false statements to police after the body was located.

Barthelmess will be on supervised release three years after her time is served, and is ordered to pay $110,910 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.

Sekel is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 19.

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