Rumford woman found guilty of welfare fraud

PARIS — A Rumford woman was found guilty Wednesday of defrauding Maine and the U.S. government of more than $10,000 in food stamps, TANF and MaineCare benefits.

Amy Knowlton, 30, was found guilty of felony theft by deception by a jury of seven men and five women after about 45 minutes of deliberation in Oxford County Superior Court.

Knowlton's family was quiet during the reading of the verdict and left the courthouse soon after. The court will set a sentencing date for June or July.

The maximum sentence on the theft charge is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Knowlton also could be required to pay back the money she took.

Jurors listened to summation arguments from both sides Wednesday morning. The verdict came at about 1:15 p.m.

The state says that between October 2006 and March 2009, Knowlton had access to her then-boyfriend's money while collecting more than $18,000 in food stamps, Temporary Aid for Needy Families and MaineCare benefits. An investigator from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said Knowlton wouldn't have received those benefits if she had reported her boyfriend's income.

The defendant's boyfriend, whom she later married, had maintained a legal residence in New Hampshire while she was collecting benefits. Knowlton maintained that she told her DHHS caseworker she was getting financial help from her boyfriend at the time, and that DHHS did not ask for more information on the arrangement.

Before the verdict, her husband, Scott Knowlton, said the DHHS had erred, not his wife. “She did all the right things. The DHHS didn't.” He made reference to recent comments by Gov. Paul LePage that middle management in state government is corrupt. “I think LePage is right,” he said.

Amy Knowlton said she had access to Scott Knowlton's money to pay for living expenses, but that the money belonged to him. State prosecutors said Amy Knowlton should have claimed that money when declaring her assets to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Knowlton also was charged with unsworn falsification, but that charge was dropped before the trial. She told the court that, to her knowledge, her boyfriend was living in New Hampshire while he was working on the fishing boat and she didn't consider him a member of the household.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Norman Mitchell's picture

guilty of welfare fraud

This stuff goes on every day in Maine by almost woman every I know of on welfare they live with some guy but declare a separate household !!! every person in Maine who lives off from our tax dollar should not be able to get away with this a person who has the same residence should have to count the income of every person at that residence the governors office should look into changing this rule !! I have a boss years ago that bought his lunch with food stamps this is legalized fraud !! So why is it that Amy Knowlton should have claimed that money when declaring her assets to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. When the others who use our system dont ????!!!! This makes no sense !!!
If people in the home buy their food together and make meals together, then everyone is in the same "household." However, if you do not buy your food together and do not make your meals together, then you might be separate Food Supplement households. There can be more than one Food Supplement household living under the same roof. This rule needs to change!! Here is another rule that should be changed In addition, you do not have to take a job if any of these reasons apply: you can’t get there because of transportation problems so if a person on welfare has no car or is to lazy to walk they can get benefits . Also Assets do not count for households with incomes less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level. Assets are money or property. This includes things like cash, money in the bank, stocks, inheritances, and the cash value of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Assets also include boats, land, buildings and other valuable property. This is so wrong !!!!!! These people need to be made to get to work as Ben Franklin said “I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Fred Stone's picture

Question

If her boyfriend/husband made so much money, it would probably have been cheaper to enter a plea deal, pay back the money and not be faced with the possibility of jail time.

Larry LaBossiere's picture

Rumford Woman found guilty of fraud

That was good to see they final caught one person!! Its ashame she didn't work for the Maine Turnpike Authority she could have recieved a pension for stealing from the tax payers.

Martha Burnell's picture

Of course, we all know DHS

Of course, we all know DHS NEVER makes a mistake... NOT!!!!

Roger Moulton's picture

What are you kidding me?

When I read the first article about this I was extremely happy to see the state finally cracking down. After reading this article I have to say my opinion has totally changed. This woman was getting help from her out of state boyfriend. It was a boyfriend with his own place of residence. At any time this man could have broken it off and she would have been left with no money until all of her applications and everything were approved and it would have been her kids that suffered in the mean time. I wonder if this case would have turned out different if they hadn't got married and had split at some point. This is who we are going to make an example out of? The one case that I would say is all gray. Let's go after the guys in Lewiston sharing the low income houses with there g/f that have 5 kids from 5 different dad and 3 different races and on top of it he sells drugs out of the house you and I pay for. Let go after that guy not the lady that had an out of state boyfriend that helped her. I'm sure Mr. Knowlton didn't tell he "I'm gonna give you x amount of money every week and if we split I'll give you un-inrelationshiped" lol How dumb! Trust me I'm not a fan of welfare but again I don't see how this woman did anything wrong.

Sarah HoganCamp's picture

If You Only Knew!

Scott NEVER lived in NH at Amys Parents house.....he lived in RUMFORD MAINE with AMY! He was supporting her the whole time she was going to the welfare office crying that she was a single mother and had nothing! only if you knew she had iphone, 2 cars, snowmobile, she was making trips to TROY NH every weekend and bragging how she was "so well off" because scott made over $100,000 thousand a year (that he didn't pay taxes on).........the only reason they got married at the end of 2008 was thats when his divorce for another woman was finalized!!!! AMY AND SCOTT are both in on this scheme! Ask yourself, why would a woman from Troy NH move to Maine and her boyfriend from MAINE move to TROY NH to HER PARENTS HOUSE? If she feared "scott leaving" (cry me a river) why didn't she get a JOB like the rest of us? and for her claim of "its scotts money not mine" well neither are tax dollars!!!!! I know the whole story! :)

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