Man gets time served for welfare fraud

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AUBURN — A former Mechanic Falls man convicted of bilking the state out of nearly $10,000 in food stamps and welfare was sentenced Tuesday to 14 months in prison. He was expected to be released Tuesday after spending the past 83 days in jail.

Mathew Bergmann, 33, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by deception two weeks earlier, but a judge rejected his sentence, concerned that the 45-day suspended portion of the sentence was too short to compel Bergmann to repay the state.

On Tuesday, Bergmann agreed to the renegotiated sentence. He also must serve two years on probation.

Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Thomas Delahanty II said Bergmann must get a job to pay the $9,212 he owes in restitution — $4,418 for food stamps and $4,794 for Temporary Aid for Needy Families. He also must provide for his three children, who have been staying with a relative while their parents were in jail.

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Bergmann’s wife, Jena, is charged with the same 16 counts — most of them felonies — as her husband had been. The remaining charges against him are expected to be dismissed.

The couple fled the state last year after being charged. He turned himself in to police in South Carolina; she was arrested in Florida and extradited to Maine after five months on the run.

Bergmann’s attorney, Justin Leary, said his client, who attended college for three years but didn’t graduate, “will make every effort to find employment.” He may be unsuccessful given the poor state of the economy, Leary said.

Delahanty gave Bergmann until Feb. 1, 2012, to repay the state by making monthly payments of a minimum of $100 or 25 percent of his gross earnings, whichever is greater. He and his wife are responsible jointly and separately for the total amount.

Jena Bergmann is scheduled to go to trial in May.

If Mathew Bergmann is fired for cause from the job he is expected to get, that would be a violation of his probation, Delahanty said.

Bergmann also is barred from leaving the state without written permission from his probation officer; having illegal drugs or excessive use of alcohol; and using or possession of a firearm.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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