Son stole dad's Social Security benefits after he disappeared in Florida, feds say

  • In US
  • 2023-02-03 15:55:45Z
  • By Miami Herald

A man started stealing tens of thousands worth of his missing father's Social Security benefits and opened a new bank account in his name after his disappearance in Florida, federal prosecutors said.

Robert Butzlaff's father has never been found since he went missing in October 2014, according to officials.

Now Butzlaff, 57, of Volusia County is headed to prison after stealing $57,296 in Social Security benefits meant for his father over several years, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida announced in a Feb. 2 news release.

A judge sentenced Butzlaff to five years and 10 months in federal prison, ordering him to pay $57,296 in restitution alongside forfeiting $57,296, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Butzlaff used his father's money "for his own personal gain," and spent it on unspecified personal expenses.

McClatchy News contacted attorneys representing Butzlaff for comment on Feb. 3 and didn't receive an immediate response.

Melvin Butzlaff was 87 and had dementia when he was reported missing by his daughter, who said he was living with Robert Butzlaff in 2014, according to News 13 Florida.

The Ormond Beach Police Department then launched a search for Melvin Butzlaff, News 13 Florida reported.

When officers interviewed Robert Butzlaff, he said his father was under the care of a woman named "Beverly A" and that they both left to go to Greenville, South Carolina, according to the outlet.

McClatchy News contacted Ormond Beach police for more information on Feb. 3.

Prosecutors said Ormond Beach police helped officials investigate Robert Butzlaff in connection with the theft of his father's Social Security benefits.

The Social Security Administration continued to deposit benefits into Melvin Butzlaff's bank account that Robert Butzlaff also had access to after his disappearance, officials said.

Afterward, Robert Butzlaff opened a new bank account using his father's information and had the benefits deposited there, according to prosecutors.

Then, Robert Butzlaff opened two new debit cards for his father so he could withdraw the Social Security benefits from the new bank account, prosecutors said.

He used the first debit card in June 2016, according to court documents.

In September 2022, a jury convicted Robert Butzlaff for fraudulent use of an unauthorized access device and aggravated identity theft, the release said.

Volusia County is located along the east coast of Florida and is also home to Daytona Beach.

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