Nevada, Mo. pastor pleads guilty to stealing social security benefits

NEVADA, Mo. (Edited News Release) -- A Nevada, Mo., pastor pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to fraudulently receiving more than $90,000 in Social Security disability benefits.

Dennis Engelbrecht, 58, of Nevada, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to the theft of government money.

Engelbrecht admitted he was employed as a pastor at Pentecostal Assembly of God Church in Nevada, Mo., while receiving disability benefits over an approximately four-year period. Engelbrecht did not report his work activity to the Social Security Administration, as required.

Although Engelbrecht was paid $650 per week by the church, he received a total of $87,705 in disability payments from February 2011 to May 2015. Additionally, his son received a total of $3,220 in auxiliary benefits to which he was not entitled. (Because Engelbrecht was not entitled to benefits, his son was not entitled to auxiliary benefits.)

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Engelbrecht must pay restitution to the government of $90,925.
Engelbrecht has worked as a pastor since 2000. His first application for disability benefits in 2009 was denied, but a second application was approved in 2011. Engelbrecht did not report any current employment on either application.

Under federal statutes, Engelbrecht is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. It was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General.