A Philadelphia woman who threw a lavish $25,000 Black Panther-themed prom party for her son is charged with illegally obtaining social security benefits.
Saudia Shuler, a well-known Philadelphia restauranteur, collected nearly $37,000 in government benefits, according to documents obtained by the NY Daily News.
Government officials alleged 44-year-old restaurant owner pretended to be disabled in order to collect the benefits, but she continued to operate her Country Cookin’ restaurant without reporting her additional income, according to the U.S. attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania.
“When asked about the quality of life, she said that she couldn’t... cook any meals and that her cousin cooked for her,” Deputy Chief of Health Care Fraud Beth Leahy told ABC. “In reality Ms. Shuler was running a food take-out business for Country Cookin’.”
Shuler is facing six counts of wire fraud, one count of theft of government funds, and two counts of Social Security fraud, according to The News.
She made headlines last year when she threw a $25,000 prom, dubbed “Dubai to Philly,” for her son, Johnny Eden Jr.
Shuler purchased custom Black Panther-themed outfits, rented exotic animals, trucked in tons of sand, and leased luxury vehicles for the evening, including a Rolls Royce and a Lamborghini.
Shuler wore a custom outfit (pictured above) inspired by Marvel's Black Panther movie and named herself "Queen" of Wakanda.
Her son said his prom party may have been over-the-top by Philly standards.
“At first I was like, it was too much, I don’t really like a lot of attention,” Johnny told CBS Philly at the time. “It was epic, man. I had my family out here. That’s all I really cared about is my family being out here. My mom did her thing, she was the real MVP."
Shuler told NBC10 she threw the lavish party to celebrate her good fortune after suffering personal family losses and poor health.
“I had a stroke. I had seizures. I had cancer. All within the last three years," Shuler told the station.
Months later, Shuler hosted a massive Christmas party for neighborhood children, which included hundreds of gifts and two live reindeer, according to NBC 10.
Leahy told ABC that there’s evidence Shuler has been defrauding the government since 2014.
If convicted, Shuler faces a maximum sentence of 140 years behind bars.