A Florida man who admitted to burying his mother in the backyard of her home so he could collect her retirement checks pleaded guilty Monday to federal theft of government property and aggravated identity theft, PEOPLE confirms.
Brian Lee Adams, 56, of Green Cove Springs, Florida, faces up to 12 years in federal prison. His sentencing date hasn’t been scheduled.
Prosecutors say Adams told police his 79-year-old mother, Janell, had died of natural causes in July 2014 but instead of alerting authorities about her death he decided to bury her in her backyard. He admitted he did it because he wanted to collect her monthly Social Security and pension payments.
Adams told police he used his mother’s name on the retirement checks and transferred $35,345 between her accounts, which he then pocketed.
“We prosecuted him for the theft of the checks, so our interest was the financial gain,” William Daniels, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, tells PEOPLE.
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The case came to light in June 2015, after Adams’ daughter, Brittanie, contacted authorities when her father told her what he had done, according to a plea agreement obtained by PEOPLE.
During an interview with the United States Secret Service, Adams said he used his mother’s benefits because he didn’t have a job.
“He explained that if he had reported her death to the police, the benefits would have been discontinued and then he would have had no way to support himself or his son,” according to the plea agreement. “Adams explained, in detail, how he and his son removed his mother’s body from her house after finding her deceased and buried her in the backyard.”
His mom’s remains were found on June 17, 2015. She was allegedly last seen alive by her son on July 3, 2014.
Adams, a registered felon, had previously been arrested in 2011 for possession of cannabis and in 2012 for driving on a suspended license, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. He was already in custody when he spoke to federal agents.
The investigation into his mother’s death continues.