Reality TV Fisherman Charged With Fraud

If you are going to commit fraud, you want to make sure that you minimise your chances of being caught. This seems to be an obvious thing for people to think of but all too often, you read stories about people being caught out in really obvious ways. If you were committed fraud by claiming to be disabled and being unable to work, you would think that you would be keen to ensure that your work wasn’t seen by a lot of people. Over time you may become a little bit careless or relaxed about making sure your activities stayed under wraps, but if you were obtaining disability benefits and claiming to be unable to work, you probably wouldn’t want to become a star of a TV show!

Wicked Tuna Reality TV Fisherman Charged With Fraud

There have been a lot of popular fishing shows on TV recent and one of the big shows in America is called Wicked Tuna. It would be fair to say that it was more of a cult show as opposed to a massive smash hit but for people that like watching this style of show, this has definitely become one of the most popular choices. The show has even made it across to the United Kingdom and there is a large following on the National Geographic Channel. One of the boat skippers on the show is Paul Hebert and viewers have watched him catch massive fish and then haul the fish on to the board. Some of these big fish can put up a fight which means that the fishermen involved have to be healthy or at least able to duke it out with a big fish!

Charges raised against TV fisherman

However, it seems as though Hebert was claimed to be disabled and unable to work between 2010 and 2013 and he has been charged by the authorities in Massachusetts. The charges indicate that Hebert has claimed over $44,000 which amounts to over £28,000 in Social Security and Medicaid Benefits for this three year period. The indictment, which features four counts, was filed late July in Vermont in the United States of America.

The authorities stated that Hebert started to receive benefits back in October of 2010 at the same time he “earned money through fishing and later through his television work.” Hebert initially filed for Social Security disability in the Spring of 2009. In his application he stated that:
  • He couldn’t drive for anything longer than a short distance
  • He couldn’t lift heavy weights
  • He couldn’t walk properly
  • He was unable to work in any job
Hebert also claimed that he lived by himself, that he had no financial resources, that he had no car and that he had no income. During an investigation though it was found that he was living with a woman and that they had a child together. It was also found that he owned a car and that he was being paid for work, which included fishing for tune and the TV work. Robert Goldstein is the Boston attorney representing Hebert and he said that his client “adamantly asserts his innocence and looks forward to defending these charges in court.”

Court case set for August

The court case is scheduled to begin in August and British fans have been following the exploits of the teams who fish from Gloucester, which is one of the oldest seaports in the United States of America. The website for the TV show states that some of the fish are worth $20,000 (worth over £12,000) which is clearly a catch that is well worth pursuing.

In this sort of case, it will clearly take a lot of hard work and effort from a solicitor and defence team to make a robust case for the defendant. Obviously the full story hasn’t been heard but on the face of it, when there is so much recorded evidence of someone doing something that they claim to be unable to do, it will be a difficult task to put up a defence against the charges. However, this is why defence solicitors are so highly regarded and no doubt there will be opportunities to refute the claims and build a counter case that represents their client. Given the popularity of the client, there is also a need to find a solicitor who will not be fazed by meeting celebrities.

Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn't sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.