Casper-Area Woman Accused of Welfare Fraud
A woman accused of misrepresenting her family's financial situation in order to obtain benefits from the state was arraigned on nine felony charges Thursday morning.
Sandra Lee Burgess, 48, pleaded not guilty to five counts of misrepresentation to obtain public assistance benefits and four counts of obtaining goods by false pretenses.
She could face up to 90 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Charging documents say that on Oct. 30, 2014, Burgess applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits from the Wyoming Department of Family Services. She submitted an application which described the people living with her, the household income and household assets.
She renewed that application on Dec. 3, 2014; May 13, 2015; Sept. 1, 2015 and March 10, 2016. Based on the application, she received SNAP benefits totaling $11,011 from October 2014 through September 2016.
In her affidavit, Certified Welfare Fraud Investigator Cathy Daiss alleges that Burgess, in each application, failed to disclose that the father of Burgess's grandchildren was living in the household and was employed. The mother of those grandchildren was also employed from July 2015 through September 2015.
The two parents of Burgess's grandchildren opened a joint checking savings account in January 2015 and were married on Aug. 29, 2015, according to the affidavit.
Burgess was also married on Dec. 5, 2013, to a man who was employed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company. The marriage, and the income of Burgess's husband, were never reported to the state.
The investigator says in the affidavit that between Burgess's social security income, her husband's income and the income of the parents of Burgess's grandchildren, Burgess did not qualify for the SNAP benefits she received.
Burgess and her daughter were interviewed on June 13, 2017, at the Casper DFS office.
During Thursday's arraignment hearing, public defender Joseph Cole asked District Judge Catherine Wilking to modify the conditions of Burgess's bond to allow Burgess to travel out of state in June to visit her sick mother.
Wilking granted the request and specified that Burgess's travel dates would need to be file with the court.