Bozeman Man Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Social Security Benefits While Acting as a Fiduciary
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana:
MISSOULA — A Bozeman man who admitted to stealing more than $57,000 in government benefits from an elderly relative for whom he was the fiduciary was sentenced today to six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $57,329 restitution, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Ira Kyrk Westbrook, 47, pleaded guilty in July Social Security fraud.
U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided. Westbrook was allowed to self-report to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.
The government alleged in court documents that for approximately 16 months, from December 2019 to March 2021, Westbrook misappropriated $57,329 of an elderly relative’s Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration benefits. The victim, identified as John Doe, suffered a stroke in 2018, became disabled and was transferred to a rehabilitation and care facility, where nearly all of his expenses were covered. John Doe was declared incompetent in February 2020. Westbrook was appointed as Doe’s Representative Payee and agreed to use the Social Security funds only for Doe’s needs. Westbrook acknowledged he could face imprisonment if he misused the money.
An investigation determined that Westbrook misappropriated his relative’s benefits by spending the money on a travel trailer, a 2019 Jeep Wrangler, groceries, restaurants, internet service and Amazon purchases, and that he incurred several $30 overdraft fees. Social media posts showed a photograph in August 2020 of Westbrook and his wife with a Jeep Wrangler and a caption that said, “Did a thing today.” After transitioning to a rehabilitation center, the VA covered all of Doe’s expenses except his clothing. Westbrook received more than $4,000 a month to be used solely for Doe’s benefit, and yet did not provide Doe with adequate clothing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the SSA, VA, Bozeman Police Department and Montana Adult Protective Services.