HUFFINGTON POST
03/29/2011 12:56 pm ET Updated May 29, 2011

Social Security Fraud: Grandmother Faces Jail Time

Mary Alice Austin wasn't exactly stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but she was using the money to feed her five grandchildren.

The 67-year-old Detroit grandmother apparently claimed $120,000 in fraudulent social security over the course of 20 years, reports the AP. She faces sentencing Friday.

She potentially faces 10 to 16 months in prison, despite requests for home confinement. According to the AP, prosecutors believe Austin should face jail time, simply because she broke the law.

Austin, however, has never had it easy.

From AOL News:

For Austin, it seems like life has always been a struggle. Her own mother was disabled, and her parents divorced when she was 16. Then Austin was forced to raise her younger siblings. She went on to marry and have three children of her own, but she was widowed at age 50.

Her son is mentally ill and has been on disability benefits since he was 13. In 1990, he was convicted of armed robbery and substance abuse and sent away to prison.

Apparently, after her son was locked up Austin never reported he was in prison, and in 1996 applied for social security benefits, claiming he still lived with her. In 2002 she hired someone to pose as her son, and even undergo medical exams to see if he was eligible for medical benefits, according to AOL News.

The defense has made the case that Austin's actions, though illegal, were intended to do nothing more than feed the family. "We didn't have much, but what we did have she made it work," wrote one of the grandkids, age 12. "I'm just asking you don't take my grandmom away from us."