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Juneau woman accused of Food Stamp fraud

Jazmine Wheaton allegedly received $12,377 in public benefits she was not entitled to

Posted: March 6, 2013 - 8:40pm  |  Updated: March 7, 2013 - 2:24am

A woman has been charged with a felony and several misdemeanors for Food Stamp fraud allegedly committed in Juneau.

Jazmine N. Wheaton, 31, is slated to appear in Juneau Superior Court Friday to answer to a felony theft charge and three misdemeanor unsworn falsification charges.

According to charging documents, Wheaton was eligible to receive about $500 worth of Food Stamps from April 2008 to September 2009, but was overpaid about $11,600 because she concealed the fact that her husband was working and earning an income at the time.

Altogether, she received a total of $12,377 in public assistance benefits that she was not entitled to, the charging documents allege.

The discrepancy was noticed, in 2009, during a routine check by a case worker with the state Department of Health and Social Services. Criminal charges were filed in mid-January, and the case is being prosecuted by Devoron K. Hill of the Office of Special Prosecutions & Appeals in Anchorage.

Wheaton admitted concealing the information about her husband’s employment during an interview with investigators in December 2012, according to a criminal complaint filed by a DHSS investigator.

“She admitted she did not declare this income on the forms because she knew that she would get more Food Stamps by not declaring it,” the complaint alleges. “She admitted that she had signed (her husband’s) signature on the forms without his knowledge or consent.”

The complaint continued on to say, “As an applicant and recipient of Public Assistance, the Defendant had a continuing obligation to declare and report truthfully and correctly regarding household income but failed to do so. It is (Division of Public Assistance’s) standard practice to advise recipients of their program obligations both verbally and in writing as part of the application and review process and to explain that eligibility for benefits (and benefit amounts) are determined by that information.”

Wheaton did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Second-degree theft is a class ‘C’ felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine. Second-degree unsworn falsification, which encompasses the intention to mislead a public servant, is a class ‘A’ misdemeanor punishable up to a year in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Wheaton currently has two other court cases pending in Juneau: a larceny case from 2012 and a criminal mischief case from 2013.

Her attorney in one of those cases said she is currently residing in Wasilla. Court records indicate she was previously released on her own recognizance and ordered not to leave the state.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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