Saudia Shuler made headlines for her son’s lavish prom send-off that included camels and enough sand to blanket their Philadelphia neighborhood last year. The pre-prom party cost Shuler $25,000.
Shuler is in the news again, this time charged with six counts of wire fraud, one count of theft of government funds and two counts of social security fraud, WPHT reported.
She was indicted after the government said she collected nearly $37,000 in benefits, WCAU reported.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said the alleged fraud started in 2014.
Officials said that Shuler applied for Social Security Administration benefits, saying she was disabled and not able to work. Her benefits were approved, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office said she continued to work and owned and operated the Country Cookin’ restaurant in Philadelphia.
The prosecution said her income and the work she allegedly did were not reported to Social Security.
“She said that she was disabled and in terms of assets said that she only had $30 in her bank account,” Beth Leahy, deputy chief of Health Care and Government Fraud for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania told WPHT. “As far as quality of life, she said she rarely made food for herself and had a cousin that cooked for her.”
Shuler told WCAU that she celebrates the good things that have happened to her because her family has faced many obstacles.
Her son’s father was murdered and she has had several health scares.
“I had a stroke. I had seizures. I had cancer all within the last three years,” Shuler told WCAU.
In addition to the prom party, she threw a Christmas party for her neighborhood that included hundreds of gifts and even two reindeer. She was called “Saudia Claus” after giving out 140 bikes, 50 scooters and Batman cars to children in her community. Shuler said she received donations from all over the country to help provide the gifts, WCAU reported.
Shuler’s attorney said that he read the indictment, but is waiting to see what evidence the U.S. Attorney’s Office will present.
“She is obviously upset because there are allegations contained in the indictment that are absolutely untrue,” Tariq El-Shabazz told WCAU.
If found guilty, Shuler faces 140 years in prison, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.