Merrimack man pleads guilty to theft of public money

CONCORD – After more than a decade of stealing public money, David Laughton, 52, of Merrimack, entered a guilty plea in federal court on two counts of theft of public money.

In making the announcement Friday, U.S. Attorney Scott Murray said Laughton converted approximately $118,031 in Social Security benefits and $54,376 in federal pension benefits to his own use.

According to court documents, Laughton’s mother passed away on June 17, 2005, in Bedford. At the time of her death, she was still receiving widow’s benefits from both Social Security and federal pension benefits from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Social Security and PBGC continued to deposit monthly benefits into her bank account after her death.

Although not an account holder, Laughton gained access to his mother’s account, knowing SSA and PBGC regularly deposited into the account. However, he didn’t advise either agency that they were making erroneous payments to his deceased mother. Instead, he kept withdrawing the money from the account to pay for his own personal expenses for more than a decade.

“Federal benefit programs serve an important purpose,” Murray said. “We work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify instances of fraud and abuse in these programs to ensure that these benefits only go to those who are entitled to receive them.”

Laughton is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 28.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or