Those who watch the Discovery Chanel or National Geographic on a regular basis know that fishing reality shows have become very popular. First, there was the Deadliest Catch, which started the craze for these types of shows, and, since then, there have been numerous other similar shows about sword fishing, lobster fishing, and, of course, tuna fishing.
Wicked Tuna, a popular reality show filmed largely off the Coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts, in which boat crews compete with each other to see who can catch more tuna during season recently had one of its fisherman making headlines; but, unfortunately, the reason was not related to tuna fishing. According to a recent news article from the Star Tribune, Paul Herbert, Wicked Tuna fisherman from Gloucester allegedly accepted more than $40,000 in Social Security disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits at the same time he was televised hauling in fish that weigh hundreds of pounds using a huge deep sea fishing rod.
Prosecutors have filed a four-part indictment in federal court in New England. Prosecutors allege Herbert first filed for SSDI benefits in 2009. On his application for Social Security disability benefits, he allegedly claimed he was unable to perform any amount work. He claimed this was due to his inability to walk or lift any weight more than 10 pounds. Authorities say he also claimed he could not operate a motor vehicle for any significant amount of time. He further claimed he lived by himself and had no way to financially support himself without disability benefits.
As our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys can explain, if you are receiving disability benefits and become able to work again at least part time, you should speak with your lawyer before taking any action. It is important you handle the situation appropriately to avoid losing benefits to which you are rightfully entitled, and you need to make sure you are not violating any laws or regulations, which could get you into serious trouble.
In the indictment of Herbert, prosecutors claim he was actually capable of performing “arduous labor,” as demonstrated on the television show, and that, during the course of their lengthy investigation, they found he was living with the mother of his child, and he was earning money from working, including the reality show. On Wicked Tuna, authorities say Herbert can be seen driving a boat, grabbing a fishing rod to haul in a tuna weighing hundreds of pounds, and using a harpoon to capture a large tuna. In media coverage and reviews of the reality show, Herbert was often described as among the “most animated” fishermen profiled on the series, and he describes himself a third-generation tuna fisherman.
It should be noted, Herbert is presumed innocent of all crimes including Social Security disability benefits fraud unless and until he is proven guilty in a court of law. His attorney has said Herbert is “adamantly asserting his innocence” and looks forward to having the opportunity to refute these charges in court.
The media attempted to contact National Geographic for any comment on the recent indictment, but the network has apparently not made any statements.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Fisherman on TV’s ‘Wicked Tuna’ indicted on fraud charges, feds say he claimed to be disabled, July 17, 2015, Start Tribune
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Rand Paul Says Many Receiving SSDI Benefits Gaming System, Jan. 27, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog