LaGrange man gets 15 months for stealing late father’s federal benefits

Posted March 30, 2011, at 8:58 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — When a LaGrange man convicted last year by a federal jury of stealing more than $32,000 from his late father’s U.S. Civil Service Retirement payments did not appear Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court for sentencing, the U.S. marshals went to get him.

Robert J. Venti, 70, was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to 15 months in federal prison on nine counts of theft of  public money. He was convicted in May 2010 after a two-day trial in federal court in Bangor.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Venti to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine and more than $1,100 in restitution.

The judge also ordered Venti to begin serving his sentence immediately.

Due to the five-year statute of limitations, not all of the money could be recovered, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moore, who prosecuted the case, said after Venti’s sentencing.

Venti claimed he had not shown up at 9 a.m. as expected because he was ill, but he did not appear sick in the courtroom, according to Moore.

Testimony and evidence admitted at trial revealed that Venti’s father, a recipient of Civil Service Retirement System Benefits, died in December 1990, but his son illegally received and endorsed the checks through November 2005.

Venti used the money to pay personal expenses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case.

Federal investigators from the Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Secret Service produced evidence during the trial that showed Venti forged his father’s name on credit union records and government forms so that he could steal the funds that had been made payable to his deceased father, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

During the trial, Venti claimed he had been told that he was entitled to receive the benefits as his father’s heir.

Venti faced up to 10 years in jail and up to a $250,000.

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