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'Wicked Tuna' Fisherman Accused of Defrauding Social Security

A fisherman featured on the popular reality show Wicked Tuna is facing federal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding the Social Security program. On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to collecting government disability benefits while “claiming” to be disabled.

Last month’s indictment claimed that Paul Hebert, 50, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Barre, Vermont, received over $40,000 in Social Security and Medicaid benefits from 2010 to 2013.

According to prosecutors, while Hebert was manning fishing boats, and harpooning massive fish on the National Geographic Channel’s reality TV show, Hebert was collecting disability and Medicaid benefits, claiming that he was unable to work, and without income, assets, or an automobile.

The prosecutors say that during that time period, Hebert was living with a woman and his child and that he owned a vehicle, and at one point he owned a home.

If Hebert if found guilty and convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each of the four counts listed in the indictment, NBC News reports.

Wicked Tuna, which first aired in 2012, follows fisherman from the oldest seaport in the country, Gloucester, Massachusetts, as the men earn a living the way that they’ve been doing it for generations – rod and reel fishing – in the pursuit of Bluefin tuna.

According to the National Geographic Channel, just one “monstah” Bluefin tuna can be worth over $20,000.

Hebert, who claimed to be disabled during filming, is featured on the show driving the boat and fishing with his teammates; he was also captured harpooning tuna.

A third-generation tuna fisherman, Hebert is the youngest of six boys.

The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC

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