BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A man accused of illegally collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in teacher's retirement checks is facing theft and other charges.
Attorney General Jeff Landry said Lester Joseph II, 42, of Baton Rouge, allegedly forged his dead father's signature on beneficiary checks from the Louisiana Teacher's Retirement System and cashed them. Landry said this went on from 1999 through 2016.
Officials reported Joseph collected $462,423.
"As the son, brother, and nephew of teachers - I know firsthand the sacrifices our educators make for their students," Landry said in a written release. "They ply their trade not for the glitz and glamour, but instead to help the next generation. So it is absolutely despicable for someone to take advantage of a program designed to reward teachers for their hard work and service. I hope this arrest today is a clear warning to would-be criminals looking to defraud our State or her people."
According to a report by the Louisiana Teacher's Retirement System, Ruby Joseph died in 1997 and listed her husband, Lester Joseph Sr., as her beneficiary and he started receiving benefits in January 1998, but died in October of that same year. The Louisiana Teacher's Retirement System reported it was unaware of Joseph Sr.'s death and continued sending the benefit checks, which were allegedly received and cashed by Joseph II.
Joseph II is charged with 201 counts of felony theft (over $750, but less than $5,000) and two counts of identity theft.