Charles Morris Butler, Jr. Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on May 28, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, CHARLES MORRIS BUTLER, JR., a 50-year-old resident of Culbertson, appeared for sentencing. BUTLER was sentenced to a term of:
- Probation: 5 years
- Special Assessment: $100
- Restitution: $52,490
BUTLER was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to theft of federal monies.
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.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that BUTLER will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, BUTLER does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
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.