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Boston — An Athol woman was arraigned Wednesday at Boston Municipal Court on charges that she fraudulently collected $58,170 in food assistance from the Supplemental Nutritional Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump announced today.
Kathleen Brower, 37, was charged with two counts of larceny over $250 and ten counts of false representations to produce welfare. Judge Annette Forde released Brower on her own personal recognizance and the case was continued until March 12, 2012 for a pre-trial hearing.
The charges are a result of an investigation by Auditor Bump’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI), which acted on a referral from the federal Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC). From July 3, 2006 through September 4, 2010 Brower had been selling, trading, and exchanging WIC issued infant formula on EBay earning over $10,000. BSI investigators uncovered that Brower had never reported this income to the Commonwealth’s Department of Transitional Assistance, from which she was receiving welfare benefits.
Upon further examination BSI investigators uncovered that Brower fraudulently applied for and received public assistance benefits from January 13, 2006 to August 11, 2010 by falsely claiming she was a single mother of four children with no income. BSI investigators uncovered that Brower failed to report that she was living with her children’s father Mark Brower, who was employed.
BSI examiners also found that Brower used approved MassHealth funds to hire her mother and sister to provide personal care attendant services for two of her children, yet ultimately cashed the MassHealth reimbursement checks for herself without reporting the income to DTA.
The information Brower failed to provide would have made her completely ineligible for SNAP and SSI benefits.
BSI is charged with the responsibility of investigating fraud within the Commonwealth's public assistance programs, principally those administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance, the Department of Medical Assistance and the Department of Social Services.