To Take or Not to Take Responsibility

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When a defendant enters an Alford Plea, it means that there is not an admission of guilt. Even though the person entering the plea maintains his or her innocence, the court treats the plea as if it were a ”guilty” plea. (Confused yet?) An article posted on CentralMaine.com tells the story of a man and wife who entered an Alford Plea after being caught stealing more than $39,000 from multiple state benefit programs.

The article states that after the couple married, the woman applied for state assistance because the husband left her and was living homeless in his van. Over a period of five years, property owners and landlords testified that the couple was actually living in a mobile home together. During that time, the husband also reported that he was living in a renovated garage, not with his wife. (At least he supposedly had a place to park his van, and he was no longer homeless.)

In addition to lying about their living arrangements, the couple failed to report to the Department of Health and Human Services that they both had a steady job of delivering a local newspaper. (Apparently, investigators discovered that the couple also received $39,161 in undeserved welfare benefits from food stamps, the state health care program and a home energy assistance program.)

The man and wife both pleaded guilty to charges of unsworn falsification and two counts of theft by deception under the Alford doctrine. The judge sentenced the 60-year-old man and his 59-year-old wife to two years in prison. They ended up getting all but 30 days of the sentence suspended plus two years of probation and a total of $36,000 in restitution. They only have to pay at least $5 a month toward that total bill. (At that rate, it will take 600 years to pay off their debt. What’s the point?)

Whether they think they are guilty of the crime or not, I think it’s pretty easy to see that these two fraudsters are have some issues with accepting responsibility for their actions. By lying to the government, their deceit and selfish actions prevented those who qualify for government benefits program from receiving the assistance they deserve.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Augusta Couple, Whitefield Woman Sentenced for Welfare Fraud,” written by Craig Crosby and posted on CentralMaine.com on February 9, 2015.

AUGUSTA — Three people on Monday were given jail sentences for their schemes to steal money from state welfare programs.

Walter Trask, 60, and his wife, 59-year-old Kathryn Trask, both of Augusta, were each sentenced to two years in prison with all but 30 days suspended and two years’ probation for receiving more than $39,000 in state aid for which they were ineligible. Justice Andrew Horton, who imposed the sentence, also ordered each of the Trasks to pay $18,000 in restitution, or a total of $36,000. The Trasks were ordered to pay at least $5 per month toward that total.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.