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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lawn Care Business Owner Sentenced for Lying to Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits

LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Breaux Bridge man was sentenced Monday to six months in prison and six months of home confinement for lying in order to continue receiving disability benefits to which he was not entitled.

Mervin J. Noel, 51, of Breaux Bridge, La., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote for one count of making false statements to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $138,247 restitution to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Louisiana Workers Compensation Corporation (LWCC).

According to evidence presented at the October 7, 2014 guilty plea, Noel began receiving workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits after sustaining an injury while working on an offshore oil platform in 1994.  In 2007, Noel began operating a lawn care business without informing either the LWCC or SSA that he was employed and earning income. Instead, on four occasions Noel falsely reported on official documents mailed to LWCC officials that he had no earnings from employment. Noel also appeared in person before SSA officials on April 11, 2014 and falsely reported that he had not worked since becoming disabled. As a result, Noel received $20,776 in workers’ compensation benefits and $118,220 in Social Security benefits to which he was not entitled.

The SSA conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph prosecuted the case.

Updated February 11, 2015