Shannon Louise Peterson, 27, Little Falls, was charged in the Morrison County District Court July 10, with one felony count of wrongfully obtaining assistance.
In July, 2011, the welfare fraud division of Social Services received an investigative referral on Peterson alleging she and her husband were living together while receiving public assistance.
In reviewing Peterson’s records, the investigator learned her husband, Jesse, had reported an address in Pierz and Peterson reported a similar address, but with a small deviation.
Also in Jesse’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, Jesse allegedly indicated he was living with the mother of his child.
Public assistance records indicated that Peterson received assistance under the food support program sporadically since December 2001, and more recently from February 2011 through Dec. 31, 2011, and medical assistance from July 2010, until now.
Peterson indicated in April 2011, that Jesse was living with her.
On a combined application form dated June 29, 2011, the Petersons allegedly denied any self-employment and Jesse 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 Jesse 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.
In a taped statement, Peterson allegedly acknowledged knowing that income needed to be reported to Social Services and that changes in income would change her eligibility for programs. When Peterson was shown the bank statements, she allegedly claimed she did not know how to report self-employment income.
The total overpayment in this case due to failure to accurately report residence and income comes to $4,027.
If convicted, Peterson faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.