News and Press Releases

West Mifflin Man Pleads Guilty In Theft Of Deceased Father's Railroad Retirement Benefits

September 21, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A resident of West Mifflin, Pa., pleaded guilty today in federal court to a charge of theft of government funds, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Richard E. Burns, 68, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that, from July 26, 1985, through Aug. 31, 2009, Burns collected for his own use a total of $341,486.92 in United States Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) retirement benefit funds intended for his father, who had died on July 25, 1985. The RRB funds continued to be deposited electronically into a joint bank account at First National Bank of Pennsylvania in the names of Burns and his father because the RRB was never informed of the father's death.

Judge McVerry scheduled sentencing for Jan. 21, 2011, at 9:15 a.m.  The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history,if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney James T. Kitchen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The RRB's Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Burns.

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