W. Seneca woman admits stealing 34 years of Firemen Pension Fund benefits

Apr 6, 2017

A West Seneca woman has admitted to illegally collecting monthly pension payments for more than 30 years after the death of her mother. 

State officials say 73-year-old Pearlann MacVittie pleaded guilty Thursday in Erie County Court to grand larceny - a felony. She admitted stealing nearly $300,000 in benefits from the City of Buffalo Firemen's Pension Fund. 

According to the investigators, Lola Martin, MacVittie's mother, was the widow of Buffalo fireman William Martin. After her husband’s death, Martin was eligible for his Firemen’s Pension Fund benefit from the City of Buffalo during her lifetime.

Monthly pension fund payments ranged from $395 in 1983, when Martin died, to $935 in 2016. Although MacVittie knew she was not entitled to the benefits after her mother, investigators say she continued to sign her mother's name on yearly forms to keep the checks coming.

An audit by the state comptroller's office uncovered the fraud. MacVittie is expected to receive five years of probation when she is sentenced in June.