A Sagadahoc County man pleaded guilty Wednesday to collecting nearly $170,000 of his mother’s Social Security benefits after she died.

Robert Caton, 72, of Arrowsic, appeared before Judge Nancy Torresen in U.S. District Court in Portland and waived his right to have the case against him presented to a federal grand jury.

After Caton’s father, George Chamberlain, died in 1988, his mother, Helen Chamberlain, continued to legally collect a survivor’s benefit from her husband’s account. But after her death in 2000, Caton continued to illegally take the payments for himself, according to a prosecution document filed with the court.

“What the Social Security Administration had no record of was that Helen died in September 2000. As a result, the benefits from George’s account were mistakenly paid by SSA to Helen for 14 years following her death via direct deposit to Helen’s Bank of America checking account,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Conley wrote in the prosecution document.

In total, the Social Security Administration deposited $162,786 in excess payments to the checking account, held jointly with Caton. Caton used all but about $15,000 of that money on personal expenses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Caton also failed to disclose the overpayments during his own divorce proceedings and never made his former wife aware that he was receiving his mother’s benefits, Conley wrote.

Caton faces up to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 for Social Security fraud. He remains free on a personal recognizance bond until his sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.