A North Philadelphia woman who gained notoriety for throwing over-the-top prom parties despite collecting disability benefits will not serve any time behind bars for Social Security fraud.
Saudia Shuler, 45, was ordered Wednesday to pay back the nearly $37,000 in Social Security benefits, but she will not have to serve any time in prison despite facing a maximum sentence of 140 years for the fraud. Shuler will also have to perform 100 hours of community service, and will serve three years of probation with six months house arrest, according to the AP.
Shuler in January admitted to years of collecting Social Security disability payments despite earning income operating a Philadelphia restaurant. She made headlines in 2017 after throwing her son a Dubai-themed prom party that famously featured a camel and cost $25,000. Last year she threw a “Black Panther”-themed prom party that reportedly featured another exotic animal — an actual panther.
“Saudia Shuler is not a folk hero or neighborhood champion, she is an admitted thief who stole money from taxpayers in order to fund elaborate parties and enhance her own reputation,” U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said. “Social security funds are meant to help people survive through challenging times, not to finance extravagances like helicopter rides, exotic animal rentals or casino gambling binges.”
But Shuler didn’t seem worried after her 2018 indictment, saying in an Instagram post at the time, “140 years? Get the f—k out of here,” along with a caption that said, among other things, “Lets get ready to rumble.”
Her attorney Tariq El-Shabazz said on CBS 6 last year that Shuler was in poor health at the time of the fraud.
“She was suffering from a stroke and, in fact, as a result of that stroke she was in rehab. She was unable to do anything for two-plus years around the same time that she was perpetrating this alleged fraud,” he told news cameras.
Shuler posted a video on Instagram Wednesday thanking her character witnesses and other supporters.
“The love was just so real. The judge felt the love, everybody felt the love,” she said. “Thank God I didn’t have to go away and that I got the house arrest and I’m just grateful that I didn’t have to leave my son and leave my business.”