Peter Ronald Villeneuve Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on November 2, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, PETER RONALD VILLENEUVE, a 63-year-old resident of Kalispell, pled guilty to theft of government money. Sentencing has been set for February 9, 2012.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
VILLENEUVE had been receiving Social Security Disability (SSI) payments since October 2004 for back problems and deafness. The Social Security Administration ("SSA") sent cost of living adjustments to VILLENEUVE on November 28, 2004, November 27, 2005, November 26, 2006, and November 25, 2007. Each of those adjustments reminded him that he needed to tell SSA if his financial circumstances changed.
On August 14, 2008, an SSA claims representative received information from the Flathead County Office of Public Assistance that VILLENEUVE might have resources that could impact his eligibility for SSI payments.
On September 18, 2008, the claims rep obtained copies of VILLENEUVE's four Provident Financial account statements from December 2005 through January 2008. The accounts contained substantial sums of money, ranging from more than $11,000 in one account to more than $75,000 in another.
In December 2008, VILLENEUVE spoke with the claims rep at the SSA office in Kalispell. He told the rep that he won a $90,000 Canadian lottery ticket, deposited the money into his account, but later withdrew the money to give to his kids. The claims rep told VILLENEUVE that the money nonetheless would have rendered him ineligible for SSI payments.
On March 18, 2009, the SSA determined that VILLENEUVE was ineligible for SSI from December 2005 through November 2008. The claims rep posted an overpayment in his account in the amount of $22,298.
On April 29, 2009, SSA special agents interviewed VILLENEUVE at his residence. VILLENEUVE told the agents that he started gambling in 2004 or 2005 after selling his business for $20,000 and that he had a good run of luck and won $80,000. He said he hid the money in a metal box before depositing it into his Provident accounts. He claimed that in 2005 he gave his daughter $25,000 toward the purchase of a house in Canada and $50,000 to the previous owner in order to secure financing. VILLENEUVE claimed he called SSA about the money and was told it would not affect his eligibility. When confronted with a copy of his 2004 SSI review, VILLENEUVE admitted that he did not disclose the proceeds from the sale of his business or his gambling winnings. He confessed that he did not report that income because he knew he would not be eligible for SSI payments.
VILLENEUVE faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.