NEW IBERIA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO THEFT OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Buddy Estelle, 52, of New Iberia, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna to taking more than $86,000 in Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits to which he was not entitled.
According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Estelle started receiving SSA disability payments in 1984. While attending a routine meeting concerning his benefit eligibility on Feb. 8, 2011, he told SSA staff members at the New Iberia office that he had not worked since 2000. During the guilty plea, Estelle admitted that he has been self-employed since 2000. He owns a business that buys and crushes cars. The SSA payments that Estelle improperly received totaled $86,261.30.
Estelle faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, restitution, and three years of supervised release for theft of government funds. A sentencing date of January, 10, 2014 was set.
The Social Security Administration and the Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. McManus is prosecuting the case.