TRENTON — A man doing 30 years at Trenton’s state prison pleaded guilty Monday to illegally collecting $27,000 from Social Security over five years using his father’s information, but not his permission.
Dressed in prison khaki, 45-year-old Felix Lebron, admitted before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mark Fleming that he got the feds to send him about $500 a month at the prison address, which is PO Box 861, Trenton, N.J.
Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Jim Scott and the defense said Lebron pleaded guilty to “exculpate’’ his namesake father, whom the prisoner never told of the jailhouse scam. It occurred between July 2008 and February of this year, the prosecutor said.
Spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenheuer said New Jersey’s Department of Corrections has taken steps in recent years to keep inmates from pulling off scams such as this. She said lists of prisoner names and social security numbers are sent to the IRS and state agencies that send out checks.
With computer cross checking and alert corrections officers, the prisons have been able to curb this kind of thing, the spokeswoman said. “I guess it’s possible for a while, but they eventually get caught, don’t they?’’
Lebron was 39 in June 2007 when he was arrested for keeping a 53-year-old South Ward woman in the basement of her home and sexually assaulting her. The victim said he forced her down the stairs and snatched away the scissors she had grabbed to defend herself.
According to testimony, the pair had been a couple until months before, when she told him to get out. They continued living together and had consensual sex two nights before, the man said.
But after telling the prosecutor the basement floor was not cold, Lebron was convicted of aggravated sex assault and other offenses and was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.
Under questioning from the judge on Monday, it came out that Lebron suffers from epilepsy. The prisoner said he had taken his medicine earlier in the day and understood what was going on in court.
He’s to be sentenced later this year to a term that will run concurrent to the time he’s currently serving.