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Couple sentenced for theft by swindle of public assistance

A man and his wife were both recently sentenced in their white-collar criminal cases. The Minnesota couple was accused of serious theft crimes for allegedly bilking the state out of over $160,000 in public assistance. Both of them pleaded guilty to different charges, and they were each sentenced to prison.

Prosecutors say that from 2004 to 2012, the couple submitted more than a dozen forms requesting aid from the state and county. However, these forms allegedly did not disclose exactly where the couple lived. As it turns out, according to the authorities, the couple was living on a yacht valued at over $1 million. The authorities also claim that the couple received nearly $168,000 in public assistance including food stamps, medical care and cash.

The 63-year-old man recently pleaded guilty to wrongfully obtaining public assistance and theft by swindle, and his 54-year-old wife pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting fraud. The husband was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, and the wife received a sentence of 12 months and one day. They were also ordered to pay $167,000 in restitution.

The two may have only received probation, but the Minnesota prosecution reportedly sought prison terms due to the scale of the theft crime. It is unclear whether the two pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement. Not every person accused of a crime in our state is offered a plea deal, but those that are face an interesting situation in their criminal defense. A person is free to choose whether to accept or reject the deal, and that person would do well to make the choice that they feel most likely to result in the most favorable outcome.

Source: Yahoo News, "Minnesotan who lived on yacht, collected aid, gets 21 months in prison", David Bailey, Jan. 5, 2015

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