AUBURN — A Lewiston woman facing several felony counts of welfare fraud pleaded guilty Thursday to related charges.

Chereese Ford appears in 8th District Court in Lewiston in 2017.  (Sun Journal file photo)

Chereese Ford, 36, of 55 Charles St. agreed to plead guilty in Androscoggin County Superior Court to two misdemeanors: theft by deception and unsworn falsification, each punishable by up to 364 days in jail.

A second charge of unsworn falsification was dismissed by prosecutors.

Ford was sentenced to 364 days in jail on the theft charge and two weeks on the falsification charge, to be served at the same time as the theft. All but two weeks of that time was suspended by the judge.

Her sentencing was postponed to Aug. 5. Once she is released, she will be in probation for a year.

She has agreed to pay $7,628 in restitution.

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Ford was indicted last year on two felonies, including aggravated forgery, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. That charge also was dismissed Thursday by prosecutors.

A felony theft charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

According to a grand jury indictment, from May 1, 2014, until Aug. 31, 2015, in Androscoggin and Oxford counties, Ford stole from DHHS and the U.S. government food stamps, or benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program with the intention of depriving those programs of that money by leading them to believe her two minor children were living with her, something she knew to be false.

Ford also was accused of leaving out information in applications for benefits with DHHS that created the impression that her two minor children had been living with her.

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