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'Octomom' accused of defrauding California welfare system

The famed 'Octomom' is back in the news again, this time facing allegations of welfare fraud in the state of California. The woman, age 38, was officially charged with fraud during a courtroom hearing in early January. She has not yet been taken into custody, but Nadya Suleman is facing allegations of perjury by false application for aid. She is also charged with aid by misrepresentation. A prison term of five years and eight months could result from these criminal allegations.

The woman is accused of filing for public assistance in California in January 2013. She has a total of 14 children in her care. Authorities in Lancaster, where the claim was filed, argue that the woman did not disclose critical financial information that could have led to a decrease in her aid. The woman reportedly earned about $30,000 from public appearances and other extraneous sources while she was on public aid. Further, the woman was known to have performed at a strip club, ostensibly for money.

The woman ultimately received nearly $10,000 in food benefits through the state of California after failing to fully disclose her income. An additional $6,667 in aid is also in question, which the woman received through CalWORKS, a welfare program that provides financial aid and services to impoverished families. The woman was the center of a controversial medical procedure, during which she gave birth to octuplets in 2009 thanks to in vitro fertilization. Those children were added to her six other offspring.

The woman in this case will be required to mount a criminal defense against the welfare fraud allegations. It is important to note that being charged with a crime does not mean that the defendant is automatically guilty. In this situation, the woman may have been confused by the application or made another honest mistake. Her criminal defense attorney may help her learn more about her legal rights and options; others who are facing fraud charges may also benefit from a consultation with a qualified lawyer.

Source: USA Today, "Octomom charged with welfare fraud" William M. Welch, Jan. 13, 2014

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