May 27, 2019
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Lewiston woman pleads guilty to theft of welfare benefits

Seth Koenig | BDN
Seth Koenig | BDN
The Edward T. Gignoux U.S. Courthouse building in Portland as seen in this March 20, 2018, BDN file photo.

A 45-year-old Lewiston woman pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $20,000 in welfare benefits by claiming to be disabled and not working, when in fact she was “gainfully employed,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maine.

Sherry Awadjie faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank said in a Friday news release.

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Frank said that from November 2015 until May 2017, Awadjie received more than $15,000 in Social Security benefits, nearly $1,700 in MaineCare benefits and almost $3,500 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps.

During this period, Awadjie claimed to qualify for the welfare benefits because she was disabled and not earn any income, but the U.S. attorney said she was “gainfully employed” and concealed her income by arranging with an employer to receive pay “under the table.”

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