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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Former Spartans director pleads guilty to social security fraud

CONCORD – The former director of the Spartan Drum & Bugle Corps has admitted to illegally collecting Social Security benefits while directing the Spartans.

Peter LaFlamme, 56, of Nashua, pleaded guilty to one count of Social Security fraud on Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Concord. LaFlamme collected more than $376,000 in disability benefits while earning a salary from the Drum & Bugle Corps, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Kacavas.

The indictment against LaFlamme alleges he concealed his employment from the Social Security Administration because he knew it would disqualify him from receiving disability benefits, according to court documents.

LaFlamme collected the improper benefits from January 1992 through April 2008, Kacavas said.

LaFlamme was indicted June 15 and arrested later that month. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 24, according to federal court documents. He was released on personal recognizance bail until the hearing, Kacavas said.

The Spartans filed for bankruptcy in 2008 under LaFlamme’s leadership. Members of the group’s board of directors accused him of mismanagement.

The group owed the Bank of New England roughly $850,000 on the mortgage for its building.

The East Hollis Street building was auctioned, the group’s board of directors was reorganized and LaFlamme resigned as director.

The Spartans didn’t perform for a year during the restructuring but have since gotten back on track.

Over the years, the Spartans developed a reputation as a prestigious musical performance group, winning national awards and marching in the presidential inaugural parade in 2005.

The group was an integral part of the city’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2003, performing in the largest parade in Nashua history, organized by LaFlamme.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Zuckerman said there are still a few things to work out at the sentencing hearing. While LaFlamme has pleaded guilty to the charge, he and prosecutors still disagree on just how much of the disability benefits were obtained illegally, he said.

LaFlamme’s sentence will depend on what the court decides on that issue, Zuckerman said. The plea agreement stipulates the prosecutors will recommend a sentence at the “low end” of the applicable sentencing range, according to court documents.

The maximum sentence for the fraud charge is five years in prison plus a fine of either $250,000 or double the amount fraudulently obtained, Kacavas said.

The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, Kacavas said.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).