No Pot at the End of The Rainbow

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Cropped shot of a woman holding a basket while shopping at a grocery store

Fraudsters are always chasing the pot at the end of the rainbow. (Sometimes they find a pot of government benefits and sometimes they just find a conviction.) A Worcester, Mass. plumber used his company to hide a large-scale marijuana business. (Do you get where I’m going with the pot analogy?) Not only did he funnel drug sales through his business, he also illegally collected Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits he did not deserve.

The 40-year-old plumber from Millbury, who was in business with his father, lied about his income and living status while receiving SNAP benefits for more than a year. During their trial, records showed the plumbing business made a legitimate $800,000, so neither qualified to receive food stamps. Simultaneously, they were raking in about $750,000 by harvesting marijuana. (Their scheme reeked of fraud, and probably pot too.)

It’s quite possible that a lot of that money was spent on the five vehicles – including a 2017 Chevrolet Corvette – that the DEA seized during an investigation. The father’s wife (also mother of the other fraudster) allegedly reported a six-figure income when she obtained financing for the sports car. But her tax returns showed an income of less than $10 on multiple forms. (Maybe she just dropped a few zeros by mistake.)

The son lied by saying that no one in his household was working. He reported he was living with his wife, who was also receiving food stamps at a different address than the residence the two were supposedly living in together. He later admitted they were not cohabitating and confessed to the food stamp fraud charge. (The guilty plea comes with up to 10 years in prison.)

When sentenced in May, the son will also have to make amends for his illegal actions regarding the marijuana growing venture. (He’s looking at a minimum of five years for growing more than 100 marijuana plants. He could also get up to 20 years for money laundering.)

Unfortunately, the father died of lung cancer a month after he was convicted. However, the mother pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to cultivate 1,000 or more marijuana plants and the conspiracy to launder money. (It’s highly unlikely that these fraudsters will ever find their pot of government benefits or gold, whether there is a rainbow present or not. If they do, I’ve got a unicorn and a field of four-leaf clover I’d like to sell you.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Thomas Laverty, plumber convicted of marijuana grow, admits to food stamp fraud,” posted on telegram.com on Feb.19, 2020.

WORCESTER — Thomas Laverty, the local plumber convicted in January of using his business as a front for a large marijuana grow, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to food stamp fraud.

Laverty, 40, admitted to receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for more than a year after making false statements about his income and living status.

 

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.