A La Carte Punishment


Usually, it is the judicial system ‘s responsibility to deliver a fair and adequate punishment to prevent a criminal from repeating illegal acts. A New Hampshire man who stole $100,000 from the Social Security Administration (SSA) appears to be calling the shots when it comes to requesting a punishment that fits his crime.

The man claimed that he notified the SSA that his mother had died, but the monthly checks continued to be deposited into a joint account he shared with her. (The checks kept coming for seven years and the SSA said they had no record of the notification of his mother ‘s death.)

According to court records, when the man was interviewed by SSA agents, he estimated that he had spent about $100,000 of the benefits. He said he knew his actions were illegal, but claimed that other people did worse things, so he just spent the money. He also brazenly challenged the agents by asking, “What are you going to do? Take $50 per month from my retirement benefit in order to pay back the money?” (I love how this criminal justifies his actions.)

Here ‘s where things get even more interesting. The 74-year-old man pleaded guilty to stealing $101,250 in Social Security benefits. He is asking the federal judge to sentence him to probation and only require him to pay back $39,984 in restitution ,on a payment plan. (Sure thing buddy, it ‘s o.k. that you stole $100,000 that didn’t belong to you. You only need to pay back 40 percent of that. Sign me up. What a deal!) In addition to picking an a la carte punishment, the man also wants to retain the $31,632 he has in three of his bank accounts.

As you might guess, the government objects to his request of only probation. The prosecuting attorney is asking the court to impose a six-month period of home confinement and order him to make an immediate lump-sum restitution payment of $12,000 to be followed by monthly payments.

Technically, the money that the man kept is classified as an “incorrect payment” rather than an “overpayment” by the SSA. Apparently because of that, the agency cannot withhold the couple ‘s monthly government benefits paid to them. (Lucky for them.) Since when do criminals get to pick their punishment? (How about getting a job and paying back the stolen funds?) When this man is sentenced for theft of public money, let ‘s hope that the government serves up an appropriate punishment.

Source: Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Hudson NH man pleads guilty to stealing over $100k from Social Security,” published by New Hampshire Union Leader on March 1, 2017.

CONCORD‚A Hudson man, who pleaded guilty to stealing $101,250 in Social Security benefits, is asking a federal judge to sentence him to probation and order him to pay $39,984 in restitution on a payment plan.

Robert Duquette, 74, is to be sentenced today in U.S. District Court on one count of theft of public money. The money was from Social Security checks made out to his mother that were deposited in a joint account he had with her.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.