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Press Release

Terlingua Woman Pleads Guilty To Stealing Social Security Benefits Issued To Her Dead Father

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

In Pecos this morning, 49-year-old JUDITH MARIA BROUGHTON, a Terlingua Ranch resident, pleaded guilty to stealing Social Security benefits payable to her dead father, Luther D. Broughton, announced Robert Pitman, United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, and Robert Feldt, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) in Dallas. She faces up to 10 years in federal prison for the offense.

Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge B. Dwight Goains, Broughton admitted that between June 1990 and August 2011, she stole Social Security Retirement Insurance benefits made payable to her father in the amount of $245,226.00.

During the plea hearing Broughton acknowledged that on or about June 5, 1990, her father died and after his death, she leased a storage unit in his name at Econo Self Storage in Lexington, Kentucky. Broughton continued to make monthly payments on the storage unit in her father’s name from June 1990 through March 2014. When officers searched the storage unit on January 8, 2014, the mummified remains of Luther D. Broughton were discovered.

Broughton also acknowledged she obtained a joint checking account in her father’s name and had his Social Security benefits electronically deposited into the account. When SSA-OIG sought written verification that Broughton’s father was still living, she responded with false statements that he was still alive. Broughton admitted that by taking the monthly Social Security payments intended for her father from July 1990 until August 2011, she stole money totaling $245,226.00 from the United States and converted those funds to her own use.

Prior to Defendant Broughton’s arrest, she had been residing with her mother, Mary Elizabeth Broughton, in Brewster County, Texas. Mary Elizabeth Broughton also was a beneficiary of Social Security payments and those benefits were deposited in a joint account with the Defendant through the Fort Davis State Bank. After Defendant’s arrest, a safety check for Mary Elizabeth Broughton was conducted and her whereabouts could not be determined at that time. Mary Elizabeth Broughton remains missing.

Defendant remains in custody pending sentencing before United States District Judge Robert Junell in Pecos. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

This case resulted from an investigation by the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General in El Paso and Lexington, Kentucky, with the assistance of the U. S. Marshal Service, the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lexington, Kentucky Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney James J. Miller, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Updated December 15, 2014