CUSHING WOMAN GETS 2 1/2 YEARS IN PRISON FOR WELFARE FRAUD

May 13, 2004

MAY 13, 2004

DAVID SPENCER, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8831

 

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Brandy L. Simmons, 25, of Cushing, was sentenced to 2 years in prison for stealing $33,426 in State benefits by forging documents.  Simmons pled guilty in Knox County Superior Court to one count of theft by deception (class B) and seven counts of aggravated forgery (class B).  From September 2001 through August 2003, Simmons received benefits from three programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment (ASPIRE) and Food Stamps.  Simmons was already on probation for a prior felony forgery.

Eligibility to receive benefits from those programs is based on need.  Therefore, in order to receive or to continue receiving benefits from these programs, applicants for and recipients of these benefits are required to disclose to the Maine Department of Human Services (DHS) the amount of income they receive from other sources a well as other pertinent information.  DHS warns such applicants and recipients that intentionally failing to provide complete and truthful information to DHS for the purpose of obtaining benefits to which the applicant/recipient is not entitled can result in criminal prosecution and imprisonment.  Because Simmons was employed when she was receiving welfare benefits, DHS personnel required Simmons to provide documentation from the employer to confirm that she was accurately reporting the amount of income she was earning from that employment.  Instead of providing legitimate documentation from the employer, Simmons on seven occasions forged fraudulent letters from her employer that understated her income. 

Assistant Attorney General David Spencer, who prosecuted the case, said, “Fraud against the welfare system by dishonest applicants and recipients constitutes a crime against both taxpayers, who financially support the system, and honest welfare recipients, who rely on the support the welfare system provides.”

This case was investigated by Robert Lamarre of the Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit of DHS with the assistance from personnel at the Rockland Office of DHS. 

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