A Conroe area resident has been ordered to federal prison for theft of government property in connection with Social Security benefits paid on behalf of his mother, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Kline Fisher Budd, 81, a resident of Montgomery County in the Conroe area, pleaded guilty Aug. 31, 2012.
Today, U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr., who accepted the guilty plea, took into consideration Budd’s age and health issues and handed him an 18-month sentence. He was further ordered to pay $243,044.97 in restitution. In handing down the sentence, Judge Werlein noted that Budd had taken Social Security funds for 26 years. Budd will also be required to serve a term of three years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
The evidence produced in court showed that the Social Security Administration (SSA) began to investigate the whereabouts of Willa Mae Shaughnesy in December 2010 when her date of birth, as listed on Social Security records, suggested she would have been more than 104-years-old. The state of Texas produced a death certificate for Shaughnesy, Budd’s mother, which confirmed she died in November 1984.
Further investigation revealed that Shaughnesy’s Social Security Benefits were paid by electronic deposit directly into her bank account. Budd had a joint account with his mother and was the only other person authorized to sign on her account. Budd admitted he made withdrawals on this account on a monthly basis for more than 25 years.
The indictment alleges that between December 1984 and December 2010, the SSA paid benefits monthly for Shaughnesy totaling more than $243,000.
Previously released on bond, Budd was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Cedric L. Joubert is prosecuting the case.