Individual Maine welfare fraud cases closed in 2013

Posted March 02, 2014, at 6:09 a.m.
Last modified March 09, 2014, at 11:55 a.m.

1. Lori Boutot (Kennebec County) stole $80,752 in TANF and food stamp benefits by lying about where she was working, where she was volunteering, where she was going to school, where she was living and who was baby-sitting her children. She was sentenced to five years, with all but 20 months suspended, three years of probation and $80,752 in restitution.

2. Alexis Wright (York County) stole $40,848 in TANF and food stamp benefits by under-reporting her income and assets. She was charged with one count of theft by deception and four counts of unsworn falsification for welfare fraud, as well as a myriad of other tax and prostitution charges. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the felony theft was reduced to a misdemeanor and the unsworn falsification charges were dismissed. Wright was sentenced to 10 months in jail, with a consecutive sentence of 364 days, all suspended, one year administrative release, $57,280 in restitution ($40,848 payable to DHHS and $16,432 payable to Maine Revenue Services) and a $1,000 fine.

3. Trudy Caouette (Oxford County) stole $1,428 in food stamp benefits while employed at DHHS by issuing money to fictitious accounts. She pleaded guilty to theft by deception, misuse of identification and tampering with public records or information. She was sentenced to 364 days, with all but 30 days suspended, one year of probation and up to $1,428 in restitution, with credit to be given for payments already made to DHHS.

4. Jeremy Gagnon (Kennebec County) stole $19,171 in food stamp, TANF and MaineCare benefits by falsely claiming that his two minor children were living with him. He pleaded guilty in October 2012. He was later sentenced to two years, with all but six months suspended, two years of probation and $19,171 in restitution.

5. Lisa Hinkley (Androscoggin County) attempted to obtain benefits by falsely claiming that her boyfriend was not in the household and by reporting less income. She pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated forgery and one count of attempted theft by deception on Jan. 11, 2013. She entered into a one-year deferred disposition (which is still active), with requirements that she complete 200 hours of community service work, complete any counseling recommended by her provider and continue her education. If successful, the state will reduce the felonies to misdemeanors and will agree to a capped sentence of 30 days in jail. If not successful, the felony pleas will stand and she will serve 45 days in jail and pay a $500 fine.

6. Tiki Thomas (Androscoggin County) stole $24,788 in TANF and ASPIRE benefits by failing to disclose that she was receiving direct-paid child support from the father of her child. She was sentenced to three years, with all but five months suspended, two years of probation and $24,788 in restitution, pursuant to a plea agreement.

7. Eric Riddle (York County) obtained $9,933 in food stamp benefits and $22,242 in Supplement Security Income benefits by falsely claiming he was not married to Elinor Riddle. He pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by deception and one count of unsworn falsification on Feb. 11, 2013. He entered into a two-year deferred disposition (which is still active), with the sole condition that he pay restitution at the rate of $25 a month to DHHS. If the DHHS restitution is paid in full prior to the end of the deferred sentence, he is to begin paying the same amount at the same rate to the Social Security Administration. If successful, the state will reduce the felonies to misdemeanors. The defendant will receive an unconditional discharge and a stand-alone restitution order will be put in place joint and severable with Elinor Riddle for the balance of any restitution owed to DHHS and Social Security. If not successful, the felony pleas will stand and it is an open plea.

8. Elinor Riddle (York County) obtained $9,933 in food stamp benefits and $22,242 in Supplement Security Income benefits by falsely claiming that she was not married to Eric Riddle. She pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by deception and five counts of unsworn falsification on Feb. 11, 2013. She entered into a two-year deferred disposition (which is still active) with the same terms as Eric Riddle’s deferred disposition.

9. Michael Knowlton (Androscoggin County) was charged with one count of misuse of a public benefits instrument for possessing his father’s girlfriend’s electronic benefits transfer card without DHHS’s authorization. He pleaded no contest in Lewiston District Court on Feb. 12, 2013 and was fined $100.

10. Susan Jamison (Oxford County) was convicted in 2011 of one count of theft by deception and one count of aggravated forgery for receiving $8,800 in benefits. In 2012, her probation officer filed a motion to revoke her probation after she failed to make regular restitution payments. She was sentenced to seven days in jail and granted a stay of execution. When Jamison did not report to the jail, she was indicted on one count of failure to report. On May 8, 2013, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five days with credit for time served, pursuant to a plea agreement. While she was on bail, Jamison had consistently reported to Maine pretrial, had undergone substance abuse counseling and had started school to become a CNA.

11. Callie Ollis (Androscoggin County) was charged with one count of misuse of a public benefits instrument for possessing another individual’s EBT card without DHHS’s authorization. She pleaded guilty in Lewiston District Court and was fined $100.

12. Lisa Brochu (York County) entered into a deferred disposition in 2012 for allowing her roommate to use $497 of her food stamp benefits while she was incarcerated. Brochu successfully completed the deferred disposition by paying full restitution and received an unconditional discharge on a theft by deception charge on June 18, 2013.

13. Sonja Engstrom (Aroostook County) stole $363 in TANF benefits by falsely claiming that her minor daughter was living with her. She pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated forgery and one count of theft by deception on May 28, 2013, and was sentenced to one year, with all but 60 days suspended, one year of probation and $363 in restitution.

14. Johanna Cooley (Kennebec County) stole $9,789 in food stamp and TANF benefits by falsely claiming that her children were living with her. She was sentenced to one year, with all but four months suspended, one year of probation and $9,800 in restitution, pursuant to a plea agreement.

Source: Office of the Maine Attorney General

 

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