Fort Kent woman sentenced to 16 months for illegally receiving housing funds

Posted April 04, 2011, at 2:46 p.m.
Last modified April 04, 2011, at 7:26 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — An Aroostook County woman was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to 16 months in federal prison for illegally receiving federal housing subsidies.

Sharon Forest, 62, of Fort Kent pleaded guilty in August to theft of public money. She admitted that between August 1996 and April 2007 she received more than $18,000 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay rent.

Forest lied on the application about her living arrangements and did not include the income of the man with whom she was living during that time period.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Forest to three years of supervised release after she completes her prison term. He also ordered her to pay $18,193 in restitution.

Forest was indicted in November 2008 by a federal grand jury on identify theft, mail fraud and other charges for allegedly stealing another person’s personal information and using it to obtain credit cards and the theft of HUD money.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, all charges but the theft of public money charge were dismissed.

“The defendant’s crime is a serious one and it deserves just punishment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Lowell wrote in his sentencing memorandum. “Her fraud lasted for over 10 years. She took advantage of [her roommate’s] kindness and she stole from a program designed to assist those who are truly in need. She had many opportunities to cease her fraud but she continued to take the checks and live far beyond her means.”

Efforts on Monday to reach defense attorney David Bate of Bangor were unsuccessful.

Forest faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, her recommended sentence was between 10 and 16 months, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Woodcock ordered that Forest, who has been free on bail since late 2008, begin serving her sentence immediately.

The investigation that led to Forest’s conviction was conducted by HUD, the Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Fort Kent Police Department, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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