AUBURN, Maine — A Livermore woman who stole nearly $25,000 in state welfare benefits pleaded guilty Monday to nearly a dozen felony charges and is expected to spend five months in jail.
Tiki L. Thomas, 35, of 735 River Road pleaded guilty to 10 counts of aggravated forgery and one count of theft by deception. Each count was punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
A plea agreement accepted by an Androscoggin County Superior Court judge sentenced Thomas to three years at the Maine Department of Corrections, but suspended all of that prison time except for five months. After serving her time behind bars, Thomas will be on probation for two years.
She was ordered to repay the Maine Department of Health and Human Services $24,788.
Justice MaryGay Kennedy allowed Thomas to begin serving her sentence on June 28, giving her time to arrange care for her young children.
State investigators said Thomas stole from the federal and Maine departments of health and human services from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment programs over a four-year period.
She was indicted on 20 related charges last summer by an Androscoggin County grand jury.
Thomas suggested she wasn’t getting child support and/or that she was working at an auto business and/or that her children were deprived of their biological father and those suggestions were false, according to Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell.
Thomas also was accused of forging notes from Donald Knight of Knight’s Auto that said she worked for him part time in 2009, 2010 and 2011 as a bookkeeper and was paid an hourly rate of $8 and $8.50. Further, she didn’t disclose that she was receiving child support over that same period, according to the indictment.
Thomas created the false impression on a six-month report for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, by failing to disclose she was receiving child support and by claiming to be employed at Knight’s Auto.
Her prosecution is part of an ongoing effort by the state to crack down on welfare fraud and abuse.