In three months, a south Fort Myers woman will learn her fate after admitting she cashed her deceased mother’s Social Security checks and concealed her death from authorities.
The maximum prison sentence Gail Andrews could receive is 15 years, according to court documents, along with a fine of not more than $250,000 for each of her two counts. The 62-year-old Andrews pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to cashing $73,715.70 of her mother’s Social Security checks.
A federal court indicted Andrews last March, nine months after investigators found the body of her mother, Gladys Andrews, buried under debris inside the home they shared.
No one came to the door of the neighboring home on St. Andrews Circle on Monday, where Andrews was known to have stayed. She did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Court documents shed light on how Lee County sheriff’s deputies discovered Gladys Andrews’ body while serving a search warrant on the home in June 2010. Andrews originally told investigators her mother had moved to Connecticut.
As they sifted through her home, Andrews first admitted she’d cashed her mother’s Social Security checks for 10 years, documents say. Deputies read her Miranda rights, and she then declined to talk without a lawyer present.
As crime scene investigators took pictures of the house — which documents describe as infested with rats, rotting trash and cockroaches — Andrews blurted out, “So if you find my mother in the house, am I going to be arrested for homicide?”
Investigators uncovered Gladys Andrews’ skeleton in the living room under a pile of debris. Andrews said, “That’s my mom, but she died in April 2008,” court documents say.
Lee deputies did not charge Andrews in relation to her mother’s death.
Three days after serving the search warrant a Lee County sheriff’s detective got a call from a person who said Andrews confessed to him she cashed her mother’s Social Security checks because her pension was not enough to pay the bills. Andrews worked as a Lee County school teacher.
Bank and Social Security records show from January 2005 to July 2010, Andrews cashed her mother’s monthly checks by forging her signature.
On Monday, Andrews’ St. Andrews Circle home appeared to have a new roof.
The lawn — which formerly held a portable toilet, a mobile storage unit and scattered construction supplies — was maintained and free of construction debris.
The county was set to demolish the home in 2010 after condemning it.
But dozens of volunteers stepped in to help Andrews rebuild and make the home livable.
Workers had to gut the inside of the house down to the wood stud frames and concrete block walls.
It’s unclear what will happen to the home if Andrews serves a prison sentence.