Larry Dominguez, 65, of Santa Ana, has been charged with theft by embezzlement for allegedly collecting more than $100,000 of his deceased father's benefits. He was charged after authorities found a skeleton believed to be that of his father, Wallace Dominguez, in the back yard during a renovation at his former home, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Orange County prosecutors said Dominguez collected more than $1,100 a month since May 2005, when his father died. No death certificate was on file for the elder Dominguez but investigators have managed to establish he died in May 2005.
Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said the elder Dominguez lived with his son at the home.
Larry Dominguez was initially arrested on suspicion of homicide but Bertagna said there is "a lot of work to be done" to determine whether he killed his father.
"As a homicide detective, the question begs: Did he murder him and has been collecting the benefits?" Bertagna said. "Or did he die and he just took that opportunity to bury him and continue on with his benefits?"
If convicted on the theft charge, he faces a maximum of four years in prison, the newspaper said.