FLORIDA – A Florida man has been sentenced to federal prison for using his missing father’s identity to collect Social Security benefits, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida (USAO) has announced.
Robert Butzlaff, 57, of Volusia County, has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in federal prison for fraudulent use of an unauthorized access device and aggravated identity theft, the USAO said. As part of his sentence, the court also ordered Butzlaff to pay restitution in the amount of $57,296, and entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $57,296, the proceeds of the access device fraud.
A federal jury found Butzlaff guilty on September 21, 2022.
According to evidence presented at trial, Social Security beneficiary M.B. was reported missing in October 2014 and has never been located. M.B.’s disappearance was not reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA), and SSA reportedly continued to make benefit payments on his behalf.
M.B.’s SSA benefits were reportedly being deposited into an account held jointly with his son, Butzlaff, at the time of his disappearance. Following M.B.’s disappearance, Butzlaff is said to have opened a new bank account using M.B.’s personally identifiable information and redirected M.B.’s SSA benefits to the new account. The new account was solely in M.B.’s name.
According to evidence presented at trial, Butzlaff obtained and used two debit cards issued in the name of M.B. to withdraw the funds that were being deposited by SSA into the new account. Butzlaff used the SSA funds intended for M.B. for his own personal expenses.
“This sentence of 70 months’ imprisonment holds Mr. Butlzaff accountable for intentionally misusing Social Security benefits, intended for his father, for his own personal gain,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General.
“This is a federal crime, and we will continue to pursue perpetrators of Social Security fraud.”
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, and the Ormond Beach Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler.