The husband of a Democratic lawmaker has pled guilty to Social Security fraud and other crimes.
Henry A. Fellela Jr., the husband of Rhode Island Democratic state Rep. Deborah A. Fellela, pled guilty last week to illegally collecting more than $58,000 in Social Security benefits, according to local reports.
Fellela pled guilty to five counts on charges of aggravated identity theft, credit card fraud, Social Security fraud and theft of government funds.
This was not Fellela’s first brush with the law. In 1999, he first applied for Supplemental Social Security benefits — the benefits were ultimately terminated when he was convicted of credit card and mail theft, according to the Providence Journal. He was released from prison for those crimes in January 2004.
After his prison term, while serving a 21-month supervised release, Fellela applied for Social Security benefits again. From 2004 – 2012 he improperly collected $58,207 after claiming that he did not have a permanent residence, when he in fact did.
Prosecutors also charged that he racked up thousands in credit card purchases on another man’s credit cards.
Rep. Fellela has in the past defended her husband, according to the Johnston Sun Rise, and said it does not affect her work as a lawmaker.
“Everybody is their own person. I go to work every day and I go to the State House every day so I feel like I do what I’m supposed to do,” she told the paper last year. “Henry’s a good person. He’s a good family man, and people who know him know that he’s a good person. He wouldn’t refuse a friend a favor.”
Rep. Fellela reportedly was in court with her husband when he pled guilty. Fellela’s sentencing is set for July, when he could face up to 37 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.