News and Press Releases

Charles Morris Butler Jr. Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Great Falls on February 24, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, CHARLES MORRIS BUTLER JR., a 50-year-old resident of Culbertson, pled guilty to theft of federal monies. Sentencing is set for May 28, 2009. He is currently released on special conditions.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

V. Butler began receiving Social Security (SSA) retirement insurance benefit payments in January of 1981. She began receiving the payments electronically in November 1992, and the payments were directly deposited to a Bank of America account established by her and her son, CHARLES BUTLER.

Although V. Butler died in Langley, British Columbia on April 29, 2003, the Social Security Administration was not made aware of her death and her benefits continued until March 3, 2008.

Between May 2, 2003, and March 3, 2008, SSA made 60 deposits into the account, totaling $52,490. Each of the 60 SSA deposits included the following information "SSA INDN: V.R. Butler." The funds in the account were used on a monthly basis through a series of check card purchases and automated teller machine (ATM) transactions.

BUTLER had also lived in Canada until May of 2006, when he moved to Culbertson. He admitted that he used the SSA funds that came into the joint bank account he held with his mother for his own personal use and benefit. During an interview with an investigator, BUTLER referred to the conversion of SSA funds as "a stupid mistake" and said he had intended to stop using the funds, but that did not work out.

BUTLER faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was conducted by the Inspector General's Office for the Social Security Administration.

BUTLER was indicted in relation to the "Pennies from Heaven Project," a cooperative initiative of the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney's Office, which targets fraud in social security programs, particularly with regard to the theft of social security benefits by relatives and others of deceased beneficiaries. Through vigorous prosecution of offenders, the agencies seek to protect the integrity of the social security program and insure that such benefits go only to those qualified and entitled to receive them. To report all suspected social security fraud, please call 1-800-269-0271.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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