Hint: if you’re going to defraud the federal government by falsely claiming you’re “disabled,” you should probably have a less public job than that of reality TV star. And you certainly shouldn’t appear on a show where you’re required to do heavy physical activity.
Fifty-year-old Paul Hebert, who stars on National Geographic’s show “Wicked Tuna,” pleaded not guilty to four fraud charges in federal court.
The indictment stated that, despite claiming his disability left him unable and ready to work, Hebert was “capable of arduous labor” and “earned money through fishing and later through his television work.”
“Wicked Tuna” follows around the crew of a commercial tuna-fishing boat–where “arduous labor” is a constant. Commercial fishing is obviously not the kind of job someone who would qualify for a disability check could handle.
On the show, Hebert is shown reeling in big fishing rods and harpooning bluefin tuna–without worrying about aggravating his apparent disability.
Despite this, he told the federal government that he was unable to work, had no income, and had no assets and was unable to provide for his family–even though he owned his own house, owned his own car, and eventually had a lucrative TV gig to compound his income as a commercial fisherman.
Prosecutors allege that Hebert bilked the federal government out of over $44,000 in disability benefits and Medicaid benefits between 2010 and 2013.
If Hebert is convicted, he faces a fine of $250,000 and up to five years for each of the four counts of fraud.