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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Former Spartans director sentenced to home confinement for fraud

CONCORD – The former director of the Spartans Drum & Bugle Corps will serve 18 months of home confinement for defrauding the government out of disability payments. Peter LaFlamme, 57, of Nashua, was sentenced Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Concord. He pleaded guilty in October to collecting disability benefits while earning a salary from the Spartans Drum & Bugle Corps, a popular Nashua organization that recently reorganized from bankruptcy. LaFlamme collected the improper benefits from January 1992 through April 2008. During that period, 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 deserved jail time, said U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadaro. However, he granted LaFlamme’s request for home confinement because LaFlamme suffers “serious and complex” health issues that would leave him prone to acquiring infections if he were incarcerated, Barbadaro said. LaFlamme appeared in court wearing a neck brace and using a walker. He left accompanied by family members. The prosecutor and judge agreed LaFlamme isn’t a danger to the public and is unlikely to repeat the offense. If he were violent, that might tip the scale toward jailing LaFlamme despite the health risk, Barbadaro said. Barbadaro also placed LaFlamme on probation for three years and ordered him to pay $376,303.70 in restitution. Ironically, part of that restitution will be paid by a lump sum benefit that LaFlamme now is eligible for. LaFlamme’s attorney said his client qualifies for Medicaid. “In cases of people like him, we almost never get restitution,” Barbardaro told the prosecutor. “At least in this case, we’ll get four years of restitution because he’s not going to be able to take that lump sum. If he loses his home, LaFlamme’s brother Jeffrey agreed to take him in, LaFlamme told the judge. LaFlamme was indicted June 15 and arrested later that month. 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. Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashua telegraph.com.