Do you remember the kids in school that used to forge their parent’s signature on a bad test or a report card?  When they got caught, they were always in trouble – detention was typically an appropriate method of punishment.  While many childish habits fade away, the pattern of forging signatures seems to have continued into the adulthood for one Massachusetts man who, according to the Telegram & Gazette, was sentenced for forging his mom’s signature on benefit verification cards to receive her pension benefits.  (Shame on him…)

The article reported that the 60-year old native of Worcester, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to four counts of larceny by a single scheme, three counts each of forgery and uttering a false document for collecting $44,000 of his mother’s pension benefits after her death in 2007.  His lawyer argued that “he fell on hard times and used the money he stole to support his family.”  (Let’s put emphasis on the word “stole” in that statement.)  He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and placed on administrative probation for five years, with the responsibility to pay full restitution, in addition to his jail time.

While a year of jail time for a 60-year old man may seem harsh, the judge referred to him as a “common and notorious thief,” reminding all that his actions of larceny were punishable by a 5 to 20 year prison sentence.  Prosecutors swiftly noted to the court that the money stolen was earmarked for “legitimate recipients,” and recommended up to three years in prison.

During the hearing, the fraudster revealed to the judge that he holds a master’s degree and works as a self-employed management consultant and has no previous criminal record.  What may have been his attempt to build credibility, worked adversely, as the judge preceded the sentencing with: “I believe that the nature of your actions requires incarceration in state prison.”  (Unfortunately, just because you haven’t committed a crime before doesn’t mean that you get a “free pass” on your first!)

Massachusetts is cracking down on pension fraud, and they are not cutting breaks for offenders – even those at the age of 60.  With all of the schooling this man has been through, it’s a surprise to see the ways of forging mom’s signature have not gone to wayside. 

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