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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 30, 2014

Manchester Man Pleads Guilty To Social Security Fraud

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BOSTON – A Manchester man pleaded guilty today to stealing more than $160,000 in government benefits.

Charles Gerbutavich, 70, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel to theft of public money. In October 2014, Gerbutavich was charged in a felony information. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2015.

Gerbutavich’s father died in 1993, but his monthly Social Security benefits continued to be directly deposited into a joint bank account in his and Gerbutavich’s names. From 1993 to 2014, Gerbutavich continued to receive his deceased father’s benefits totaling $161,587.

This case was brought as part of an ongoing effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Social Security Administration to investigate and prosecute the posthumous fraud of Social Security benefits. In many of these cases, family members, knowing they are not entitled to government benefits, continue to withdraw and spend the funds after a relative has died. Since October 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted several such cases involving a total of more than $1 million in stolen government money.

In October 2014, Mary Murphy of Dorchester was sentenced to 18 months of home confinement, 10 hours per week of community service, and was ordered to pay a fine of $40,000 and $331,630 in restitution – which she paid in full in October. Murphy pleaded guilty in connection with taking her deceased mother’s Social Security and Civil Service retirement benefits, which were directly deposited into a joint bank account after her death in 1977.

Also in October 2014, Richard Oldham of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, was sentenced to four months in prison, six months of home confinement, and was ordered to pay $195,862 in restitution for endorsing Social Security checks in his deceased mother’s name following her death in 1993.

In September 2014, Frances Kenney Moseley of Boston, pleaded guilty to stealing over $220,000 in Social Security benefits, which were directly deposited into her father’s bank account after his death in 2003. Moseley is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 22, 2014.

In August 2014, George Bergstrom of Shrewsbury, was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $57,948 in restitution – which he paid in full in August – for taking his deceased mother’s Social Security benefits, which were directly deposited into a joint bank account after her death in 2009.

In October 2013, John Flaherty of Newburyport, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and was ordered to pay $168,830 in restitution for taking his deceased mother’s Social Security benefits, which were directly deposited into a joint bank account after her death in 1993.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The Gerbutavich case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

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Updated December 15, 2014