Rumford woman found guilty of welfare fraud

By Tony Reaves, Sun Journal
Posted May 23, 2012, at 2:48 p.m.

PARIS, Maine — A Rumford woman was found guilty of defrauding Maine and the U.S. government of more than $10,000 in food stamps, TANF and MaineCare benefits on Wednesday.

Amy Knowlton, 30, was found guilty of felony theft by deception by a jury of seven men and five women after about 45 minutes of deliberation in Oxford County Superior Court.

Knowlton’s family was quiet during the reading of the verdict and left the courthouse soon after. The court will set a sentencing date for Knowlton in June or July.

The maximum sentence on the Class B theft charge is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Knowlton may also face a requirement to pay back the money she took.

Jurors listened to summation arguments from both sides Wednesday morning. The verdict came down at around 1:15 p.m.

The state says that between October 2006 and March 2009, Knowlton had access to her then-boyfriend’s money while collecting more than $18,000 in food stamps, TANF and MaineCare benefits. An investigator from the state Department of Health and Human Services said Knowlton wouldn’t have received those benefits had she reported her boyfriend’s income.

The defendant’s boyfriend, who she later married, had maintained a legal residence in New Hampshire while she was collecting benefits. Knowlton maintained that she told her DHHS caseworker she was getting financial help from her boyfriend at the time, and that the DHHS did not ask for more information on the arrangement.

Before the verdict, her husband, Scott Knowlton, said the DHHS had erred, not his wife.

“She did all the right things. The DHHS didn’t.” He made reference to recent comments by Gov. Paul LePage that middle management in state government is corrupt. “I think LePage is right,” he said.

Amy Knowlton said she had access to Scott Knowlton’s money to pay for living expenses, but that the money belonged to him. State prosecutors say Amy Knowlton should have claimed that money when declaring her assets to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/23/news/lewiston-auburn/rumford-woman-found-guilty-of-welfare-fraud/ printed on July 22, 2014