A former Hermon High School varsity softball coach admitted Monday to lying about his employment to continue receiving workers’ compensation payments.
Jody M. Theberge, 57, of Hermon pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bangor to one count of making false statements to obtain federal employees’ compensation.
Theberge qualified for workers’ compensation due to an injury he suffered while working as a mail sorter in 2013 for the U.S. Postal Service in Maine, according to court documents. He had worked at the postal service’s Hampden sorting facility since 1994 and didn’t work there after his 2013 injury.
Between 2014 and 2020, Theberge received more than $40,000 each year in workers’ compensation benefits, according to the prosecution version of events to which he pleaded guilty.
He was the softball coach for Hermon from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021, even though the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. He also volunteered for a Little League softball program in Hermon.
To continue receiving the federal benefits, Theberge was required to submit a form each year stating whether he had been paid for work in the previous year and whether he had done any volunteer work. He lied about being paid to coach softball and about his volunteer work, court documents said.
Jeffrey Silverstein, Theberge’s attorney, said his client received about $6,500 in stipends from the school department before his contract was not renewed earlier this year. The school department did not disclose its reason for not rehiring Theberge.
Steph Biberstein, who guided the Hermon High School softball team to the State Class B championship in 2010 and is the assistant principal at Hermon High School, coached the softball team this past season.
Theberge no longer receives workers’ compensation but is on disability for his work-related shoulder injury.
“He has otherwise never run afoul of the law in any way and he has great community support,” Silverstein said Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Lizotte, who is prosecuting the case, said Theberge’s guilty plea was the result of “a thorough investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, which has a unit dedicated to investigating workers’ compensation benefit fraud perpetrated by postal employees.”
A sentencing date has not been set.
In his plea agreement with a federal prosecutor, Theberge waived his right to appeal his sentence to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston if it is less than six months. The plea agreement also said that Theberge, who is free on personal recognizance bail, received no more than $15,000 in compensation for which he did not qualify.