Terlingua Woman Pleads Guilty To Stealing Social Security Benefits To Dead Father

Terlingua Woman Pleads Guilty To Stealing Social Security Benefits To Dead Father

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

PECOS- A Terlingua woman has pleaded guilty to stealing government money that was paid to her dead father. 49-year-old Judith Broughton admitted to collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in her father's Social Security benefits.

But the story is still unfolding. And according to officials, this is an unusual case.

"We're on the border so a majority of our offenses are drug and immigration offenses, so this is out of the ordinary because we don't deal a lot with fraud and theft type cases," Assistant United States Attorney, Jay Miller, said.

Miller works at the Pecos Division of  the agency's Western District of Texas, who is assisting in the investigation.

But theft is just one part of the investigation into the Broughton family.

"Being an attorney, both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, the facts are gruesome, considering the fact that the father was found mummified and the mom is still missing," Miller said.

On Thursday morning, Broughton admitted to collecting $250,000 from the Social Security Administration. Authorities in El Paso found out soon after performing a routine check into the beneficiaries.

"It was a program I believe called "Centenary Project," where they were looking for individuals collecting Social Security benefits who were over a 100 years old," Miller explained.

But they became suspicious when they couldn't locate the man, named Luther D. Broughton.

"The agent painstakingly went through documents, went through records and was able to discover a storage unit in Lexington, Kentucky," he said, adding that the storage was leased out in Luther's name.

There, at the Econo Self Storage, Luther Broughton was found- mummified. His remains were sent to a lab for confirmation.

According to Miller, Broughton and her parents had all lived in Kentucky at least until 1990, which Broughton told the court is the year her father had died. But officials said they cannot discuss what led to his death.

Meanwhile, Broughton's mother also received Social Security benefits. The money was being deposited into a bank in Alpine, where she held a joint account with Broughton.

Now officials are looking into that bank account to help track down Broughton's mother, Mary Elizabeth Broughton, who has been missing for months. They said they are able to view who accesses the account, when, and from where, but are withholding any results that may have been found in fear of compromising the investigation.

Multiple agencies in Texas and Kentucky aided in this case, which continues.

Broughton remains in custody awaiting sentencing, but no date has been scheduled yet. If sentenced, Broughton is facing up to 10 years in jail for the fraud.

And authorities are asking for any tips that could help find Mary Elizabeth Broughton.

If anyone has information, they're asked to call the Brewster County Sheriff's Office at 432-837-3488.