The North Philadelphia mother who went viral after spending $25,000 of her own money on her son’s elaborate Arabian-themed prom send-off was indicted Tuesday on charges of social security fraud.
Saudia Shuler, who owns Saudia Shuler's Country Cookin', become known in her community for throwing extravagant prom parties for her son and other members of the community. Last year, we reported Shuler went above and beyond for her son, JJ, by renting a camel, a Lamborghini, a Rolls-Royce, a Range Rover, and custom made dresses for her son’s three dates.
Although her son didn’t go to prom this year, she sent 24 deserving students to prom with an incredible Black Panther-inspired send-off.
Despite being recognized as a Philly staple, Shuler is in trouble with the federal government, reported WPVI.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia say Shuler has been involved in social security fraud over the last four years.
Deputy Chief of Health Care Fraud Beth Leahy said, "There's evidence she defrauded the government and no matter who you are the government brings charges."
According to Leahy, Shuler claimed she was disabled and unable to work in 2014. Schuler did say she suffered a stroke and was unable to work or live a normal life for over a year.
However, Leahy said Schuler was using the Social Security-approved benefits while she operated her restaurant.
"When asked about the quality of life, she said that she couldn't, rarely cook any meals and that her cousin cooked for her. In reality, Ms. Shuler was running a food take-out business for Country Cookin'," Leahy told the local news station.
Shuler's attorney, Tariq El-Shabazz, is vehemently denying the charges.
"Ms. Shuler suffered from a stroke and a result of that she was in rehab she was unable to do anything for two-plus years around the same time she was allegedly perpetrating this particular fraud," said El-Shabazz.
El-Shabazz said his client is a woman who has done nothing but serve her community, and she has no reason to lie to Social Security nor hide anything.
El Shabazz added, "If someone is allegedly participating in and receiving social security benefits, disability benefits indicating they can't work, I don't know if they would have a store in their name."
In total, prosecutors say Shuler owes the government more than $36,000. She faces nine charges, including two counts of Social Security fraud. If convicted, Shuler could face a maximum sentence of 140 years, according to Fox 29.