Little Falls man charged with wrongfully obtaining assistance

Jessie David Peterson, 32, 30, Little Falls, was charged July 10, in Morrison County District Court with one felony count of theft by wrongfully obtaining assistance.

In July, 2011, the welfare fraud division of social services received an investigative referral on Peterson alleging he and his wife were living together while receiving public assistance.

In reviewing Peterson’s records, the investigator learned his wife had reported an address in Pierz and Peterson reported a similar address, but with a small deviation.

Also in Peterson’s file was a statement dated April 2011, that said he was homeless and had worked a few odd jobs over the past year. In May 2011, Peterson allegedly indicated he was living with the mother of his child.

Public assistance records indicated that Peterson’s wife received assistance under the food support program from February 2011 through Dec. 31, 2011, and medical assistance from July 2010 until now.

Peterson’s wife indicated in April 2011, that he was living with her.

On a combined application form dated June 29, 2011, the Peterson’s allegedly denied any self-employment and Peterson claimed to have no income or assets or bank accounts. On another report dated Dec. 29, 2011, again employment and/or self-employment was denied.

According to the criminal complaint, information from Wells Fargo Bank Feb. 2, indicated Peterson was  individually or jointly associated with several account numbers. A search warrant was executed March 20, at the Wells Fargo Bank in Sauk Rapids requesting monthly statements. The statements were provided April 29, indicating deposits of large amounts of unreported income. Those statements allegedly reported that from July 14, 2011, through March 17, $9,685.68 was deposited into the Petersons’ accounts.

It was determined that Peterson was not eligible for the food support benefits he received in April and May of 2011, because he was living with his wife. It was also determined the Petersons were not eligible for the food support benefits they received from July 2011 through December 2011, and only partially eligible for the months of January through March. Overpayment was determined to be $4,027.

If convicted, Peterson faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.