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FIRU Continues to Uncover Cases of Welfare Fraud and Abuse

Augusta, 20. Dec 17 01:15 PST
News byMaine-gov

AUGUSTA – After surpassing $1 million in fraud allegations in the summer of 2017, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit (FIRU) will end the year having identified additional cases of fraud and abuse within the state's welfare system.
Almost a year after a Guildford woman was found guilty of stealing welfare benefits to which she was not entitled, her husband plead guilty to the same crime. Theresa and Morris Sudsbury were found to have stolen $24,787 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, by receiving benefits individually and failing to report that they were living together.
Theresa pled guilty to one count of Class D Theft by Deception and one count of Class D Unsworn Falsification on Dec. 5, 2016. She was sentenced to 365 days in jail with all but 60 days suspended and was placed on one year of administrative release.
On October 26, 2017, Morris Sudsbury pled guilty to one count of Class B Theft by Deception and two counts of Class D Unsworn Falsification. Morris has an extensive criminal history including arson, felon in possession of a firearm, operating under the influence, and 25 prior theft, burglary, or negotiating a worthless instrument charges. By agreement, Morris was sentenced to 8 years, with all but 9 months suspended, 3 years of probation, and a total of $24,787 to be paid in joint restitution with his wife. This case was investigated by the Bangor office of the FIRU.
On November 9, 2017, the Cumberland County Grand Jury indicted four individuals:

Florida resident Jamie A. Heater was indicted on one count of Class C Theft by Deception for allegedly not reporting the employment income of a household member to steal $7,976 in SNAP benefits.
Alicia Coffill of Portland was also indicted on one count of Class C Theft by Deception for allegedly stealing $7,216 from the Supplemental Assistance Program by not reporting her employment income.
Regina L. Bayne of Limerick was indicted on one count of Class B Theft by Deception for allegedly not reporting income from employment. Bayne allegedly stole $11,874.10 from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and MaineCare Program.
Julie Buckley of North Yarmouth was also indicted on one count of Class B Theft by Deception for failing to report her accurate income from employment or child support. Buckley is alleged to have stolen $28,354 in total from SNAP, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, the Transitional Food Assistance Program, the Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment (ASPIRE) Program and the MaineCare Program.

On November 21, 2017, Brandy Hanson of New Gloucester plead guilty to one count of Class B Theft by Deception and one count of Class D Unsworn Falsification. Hanson had failed to report that the father of her children was both employed and living with her, resulting in an overpayment of $23,424. By agreement, Hanson was sentenced to three years in jail with all but 75 days suspended and three additional years of probation, and was ordered to repay restitution in full.
"I am constantly impressed by the dedication of our top-notch FIRU team," said DHHS Commissioner Ricker Hamilton. "Our welfare system is able to run more efficiently and serves more people who truly need it because of their hard work."
To date this year, FIRU Investigators have presented 56 criminal cases to the Attorney General's Office totaling more than $ 1,286,038 in alleged theft of public benefits. An additional 32 misdemeanor cases have been filed with local District Attorney Offices totaling $19,294. FIRU has also assisted with three federal cases totaling $113,143 in fraud allegations.
In 2016, a total of 174 criminal cases were referred from DHHS for prosecution totaling $1.7 million in welfare theft.
The Department of Health and Human Services is committed to improving the program's integrity and operational effectiveness. If you want to report potential fraud, you can do so online or by calling the state's Fraud Hotline at 1-866-348-1129.
Online Fraud Reporting Form: