July 12--A Centralia man accused of gambling away his deceased girlfriend's Labor and Industries payments in the months following her death was charged with identity theft earlier this month.
Daniel R. Vaeth appeared in Lewis County Superior Court on July 3. Prosecutors charged the 58-year-old with first-degree identity theft.
The Department of Labor and Industries began investigating Vaeth, who is a convicted sex offender, in 2011 after learning that his live-in girlfriend, Bonnie Scott, had died the previous year and had since received thousands of dollars in benefits, court documents state.
Scott had legally been receiving her husband's L&I pension benefits after he died in 2007, court documents state. Scott was entitled to her former husband's L&I benefits under the Industrial Insurance Act.
But when Scott died in September 2010, a year passed before L&I found out about her death and stopped the payments, court documents state. Due to the delayed notification about her death, L&I calculated it overpaid by $15,181.
An investigator from L&I discovered that after her death, someone had withdrawn more than $8,000 from the woman's bank account at various ATMs throughout Centralia and at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, court documents state.
The investigator found that 11 out of the 15 times that money was withdrawn from Scott's accounts after her death from the ATM at Lucky Eagle Casino, Vaeth had used his player card at the casino during the same time.
When the L&I investigator and a Centralia police detective met with Vaeth, he allegedly admitted to taking the money from the account, court documents state.
First-degree identity theft is a class B felony and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
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