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OFF BEAT: Bieber backup singer faces bitter tune in $165K comp fraud


A former backup singer for pop star Justin Bieber pleaded guilty this week to fraud and forgery in California court after he collected $165,000 in workers compensation checks intended for his aunt who died nearly a decade ago.

Vernon Burris, 30, appeared in the 2013 movie “Justin Bieber’s Believe,” which chronicled Mr. Bieber’s “Believe” concert tour, according to a statement Tuesday from the California Department of Insurance. His Twitter bio notes that he is a background vocalist for Mr. Bieber and “your girlfriend’s favorite singer/songwriter.”

Mr. Burris’ aunt, Deborah Wilkes, died in December 2004, but her workers comp checks continued to be mailed to Dolly Burris Bennett, who is Mr. Burris’ mother and had been Ms. Wilkes’ sister-in-law and caretaker, according to the insurance department. Ms. Burris Bennett allegedly gave the checks to Mr. Burris, who forged his aunt’s signature and deposited them into his mom’s account.

Mr. Burris was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay $7,580 in restitution to Los Angeles County, according to the insurance department. His mother was arrested at Mr. Burris’ sentencing hearing this week and was charged with 20 counts of forgery and one count of grand theft.

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