A York County grand jury has indicted four individuals – including a New Hampshire woman – on charges that they allegedly lied to the state of Maine in order to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in welfare benefits.
The indictments were released May 7 by the York County Superior Court. Sources say all four indictments stem from crimes committed against the state of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Courtney L. Cochran, 36, of Springvale was indicted on one charge of theft by deception of more than $10,000 and four charges of unsworn falsification, i.e. making false statements to civil servants at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Bethany Nichols, 39, of Old Orchard Beach was indicted on one charge of theft by deception of more than $1,000 and one charge of unsworn falsification.
Giselle G. Rec, 42, of Kennebunk was indicted on one charge of theft by deception stemming from a 2011 offense. She was also indicted on three charges of unsworn falsification — two in 2011 and one last year.
Linda M. Schofield, 56, of Portsmouth, N.H., was indicted on one count of theft of more than $10,000 by deception and four charges of unsworn falsification.
Theft of more than $10,000 by deception is a Class B crime in Maine and making untrue statements to civil servants is a Class D crime — both crimes are typically involved when an individual defrauds the welfare system.
Lying to DHHS about income, residency and marital status are common ways welfare fraudsters can obtain and increase welfare benefits.
Editor’s Note:An indictment is not a determination of innocence or guilt, but that enough evidence was presented to a grand jury to warrant a trial on the charge.