A Lowell woman, who received $6,700 in fraudulent benefits by lying about her husband's employment, was sentenced Friday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to 45 days in the Washington County Jail.
Jennifer Lyons, 33, of 3100 Highland Ridge Road Lowell, pleaded guilty Aug. 29, to a fifth-degree felony charge of theft.
Jennifer and her husband, 34-year-old Jesse Lyons, were receiving public assistance benefits from the Washington County Department of Job and Family Services in 2011 despite the fact that Jesse had recently taken a job that disqualified them from the money.
"They were receiving health care benefits. Jennifer reported on July 22, 2010 that her husband was unemployed and benefits started. He started working again in December 2010, and it put their income over the guidelines to receive benefits and she never reported the change," said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb.
The continued receiving the fraudulent benefits for five months and ended up collected $6,700 they would not have received if they had reported the job.
"The folks at Job and Family Services go over the guidelines and people receiving the benefits know that if there is any change at all in income it needs to be reported immediately," added Erb.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane sentenced Jennifer to 45 days in jail and told her she could serve 15 immediately and the remaining 30 on weekends.
However, after a brief discussion with her attorney Ray Smith, Jennifer indicated she would prefer a continuous sentence.
"Judge she just wants to do all 45 days," said Smith.
Lane noted that restitution to Job and Family Services was requested but questioned Jennifer's ability to pay a financial sanction because of health issues.
"What bothers me is if she has severe seizures she cannot hold down a job and make payments," he said.
Jennifer interjected that she would be able to make small monthly payments.
"Out of my child support, I could probably do $100 a month," she said.
Lane ordered $90 a month payments until the full $6,700 is repaid.
Jesse Lyons was also indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of theft. However the charge against him was dismissed as part of Jennifer's plea agreement, said Erb.
"She was the one who took care of the paperwork. She was the primary offender here," he said.