Welfare fraud nets nine-month sentenceConvict a former Department of Health, Human Services worker
Rockland — A 29-year-old Rockport woman was sentenced March 6 to three years in prison with all but nine months suspended after pleading guilty to charges of defrauding the state of nearly $50,000.
Ashley S. Carleton, a former Department of Health and Human Services employee, was indicted on charges of theft by deception and aggravated forgery for reportedly stealing food stamps, housing benefits, and Maine Care Services in excess of $10,000.
Carleton will serve the sentence at the Knox County Jail. She is also ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution.
She originally pleaded not guilty to the charges in August.
Carleton was employed as an office associate II, assigned to the office for family independence within the department's Rockland office. She began working in that capacity for the state in 2005, confirmed Department Spokesman John A. Martins in an email.
Carleton earned a little more than $28,000 in 2011, according to the Department of Administrative and Financial Service's website.
Carleton is accused of stealing more than $10,000 in food stamps and MaineCare services from January 2008 to September 2012 by attesting her salary and her boyfriend's income as a housekeeper was the only income contributing to her household. The state claims this was false and that Carleton intentionally deceived the state.
The defendant is also accused of illegally receiving more than $1,000 but less than $10,000 in assistance from the Maine State Housing Authority, for receiving benefits from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for two years. The state alleges that from January 2012 to December 2012, Carleton claimed her salary and her boyfriend's salary consisted of the only income in their household, which the state contends is false.
The aggravated forgery charge stems from a false statement Carleton made about her boyfriend's income in an effort to defraud the state, said court documents.
She will be on probation for three years upon her release.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.