By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

ST. ALBANS: Debra Bluto, 64, of St. Albans has been charged with four crimes in connection with allegedly taking social security funds that were originally earmarked for her grandson.

According to the Federal Government, Bluto’s grandson was receiving SSI funds, in a federal program that helps people with disabilities who are unable to earn much income on their own. Although the funds were earmarked for her son, Debra was his guardian, so the money as given to her to manage on his behalf, according to court records.

Court records indicate that the funds were deposited into Debra’s account every month beginning in 2001.

Contrary to the rules set forth by the Social Security Administration for receiving these funds, Debra’s grandson was incarcerated in Vermont from February 5th, 2016 until January of 2017.

The social security administration grants funds for SSI recipients for food, housing, educational and medical expenses, but any other expenses must be authorized, according to the charging documents filed in Federal Court in Rutland late last month.

Those filings indicate that Debra had collected about $50,000 in SSI income on her grandson’s behalf while he was incarcerated, then used that money for herself. In addition, she filed paperwork with the social security administration indicating he was residing with her and using the income to survive.

Debra Bluto pleaded not guilty in Federal Court in Burlington this week. She was released on conditions, including that she does not have any contact with the witnesses in the case.

She faces up to 10 years in Federal Prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if she is convicted.