BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A man featured on the reality television show "Wicked Tuna" pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges in Vermont he received government disability benefits while he was fishing on the show.
Paul Hebert, 50, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, entered the pleas in U.S. District Court in Burlington to charges of Social Security and Medicaid fraud.
Hebert was charged last summer with accepting more than $44,000 in Social Security and Medicaid disability benefits between 2010 and 2013.
As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Hebert agreed to pay more than $53,600 in restitution. Attorneys are recommending probation for four years. Sentencing is set for May.
"This took place at a time way before Mr. Hebert was fortunate enough to get the job on 'Wicked Tuna,'" Hebert's attorney Paul Volk said Thursday after the hearing.
When he was indicted, prosecutors said that Hebert first filed for Social Security disability in the spring of 2009, claiming on his application that he was unable to work at any job, could not walk properly, could not lift heavy weights or drive for more than short distances. He began receiving benefits in October 2010.
But Hebert failed to update the government agencies that administered the benefits he received about his work on the show as required by law, Volk said.
Hebert has been on "Wicked Tuna" since 2012. The National Geographic Channel show follows several Gloucester-based boats that try to land bluefin tuna, which can weigh hundreds of pounds and fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
This story has been corrected to remove reference to Hebert being 'once' featured on the show. He is still appearing. It has also been corrected to show that Paul Hebert pleaded guilty on Wednesday, not Thursday.