For two years, Sheltina Smith-Mays stole from her former employer, the Department of Public Welfare, in her slain cousin's name, the state Office of Inspector General has alleged.
Smith-Mays' cousin, Tynetta Mays, 33, was shot and killed in the early morning hours on Aug. 29, 2005, as she was riding her bicycle through Kensington.
The welfare account belonging to Mays, who had legitimately received benefits, was closed when the Department of Public Welfare was notified of her death, Amy Butler, spokesperson for the Office of Inspector General said.
But within a month of her cousin's death, Smith-Mays, 42, was able to reactivate the account, deposit new funds and withdraw more than $71,450 over the next two years, Butler said.
Conspiring with Smith-Mays in the theft was her cousin, Lisa Thomas, 35, officials alleged. Both women, who live in Philadelphia, face numerous charges including welfare fraud, theft and access-device fraud.
The two used four unauthorized electronic benefits-transfer cards to access the 46 illegal transfers that were made into Mays' account, officials said.
The Department of Public Welfare referred the case to the Office of Inspector General and the women will be prosecuted by the city's District Attorney's Office.
Smith-Mays' was fired from the Department of Public Welfare when the charges were filed.
Tynetta Mays was one of 380 people killed in Philadelphia in 2005. Her case remains active and unsolved, according to homicide investigators.