No Pot at the End of The Rainbow

Cropped shot of a woman holding a basket while shopping at a grocery store

Fraudsters are always chasing the pot at the end of the rainbow. (Sometimes they find a pot of government benefits and sometimes they just find a conviction.) A Worcester, Mass. plumber used his company to hide a large-scale marijuana business. (Do you get where I’m going with the pot analogy?) Not only did he funnel drug sales through his business, he also illegally collected Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits he did not deserve.

The 40-year-old plumber from Millbury, who was in business with his father, lied about his income and living status while receiving SNAP benefits for more than a year. During their trial, records showed the plumbing business made a legitimate $800,000, so neither qualified to receive food stamps. Simultaneously, they were raking in about $750,000 by harvesting marijuana. (Their scheme reeked of fraud, and probably pot too.)

It’s quite possible that a lot of that money was spent on the five vehicles – including a 2017 Chevrolet Corvette – that the DEA seized during an investigation. The father’s wife (also mother of the other fraudster) allegedly reported a six-figure income when she obtained financing for the sports car. But her tax returns showed an income of less than $10 on multiple forms. (Maybe she just dropped a few zeros by mistake.)

The son lied by saying that no one in his household was working. He reported he was living with his wife, who was also receiving food stamps at a different address than the residence the two were supposedly living in together. He later admitted they were not cohabitating and confessed to the food stamp fraud charge. (The guilty plea comes with up to 10 years in prison.)

When sentenced in May, the son will also have to make amends for his illegal actions regarding the marijuana growing venture. (He’s looking at a minimum of five years for growing more than 100 marijuana plants. He could also get up to 20 years for money laundering.)

Unfortunately, the father died of lung cancer a month after he was convicted. However, the mother pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to cultivate 1,000 or more marijuana plants and the conspiracy to launder money. (It’s highly unlikely that these fraudsters will ever find their pot of government benefits or gold, whether there is a rainbow present or not. If they do, I’ve got a unicorn and a field of four-leaf clover I’d like to sell you.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Thomas Laverty, plumber convicted of marijuana grow, admits to food stamp fraud,” posted on on Feb.19, 2020.

WORCESTER — Thomas Laverty, the local plumber convicted in January of using his business as a front for a large marijuana grow, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to food stamp fraud.

Laverty, 40, admitted to receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for more than a year after making false statements about his income and living status.


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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.