An Illinois woman Ebony Martin, 34, who set up a false state file for her boyfriend, Keith Jones, 38, with social security numbers of non-existent triplets so that he could receive more government food assistance, was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail.
According to Daily Herald, state prosecutors said Martin was working at the IDHS office in Villa Park when she set up a public-assistance plan for Keith Jones and four fictitious children, including a set of triplets. Jones collected about $21,866 in food benefits in less than a year and the couple sold some food stamps to friends and family members at half the price.
Daily Herald reports that Illinois state Police Sgt. Daphne Bankston said the fraud was uncovered after the Illinois Inspector General's office received a tip. She said investigation showed Martin had inflated the benefits using bogus social security numbers to make it appear that Keith had four children. Bankston said: “She admitted she created the file and kept it at her desk because she knew it was fraudulent."
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that prosecutor Diane Michalak said: "She was a government official who abused her trust. The crime couldn’t have been done without her... She was making a profit on top of defrauding the government."
Fox News reports that Martin pleaded guilty to felony theft of government services. Judge Robert Kleeman said he was "puzzled" that a woman with Martin's education, employment and lack of criminal record would commit such crime. The judge said: “It's more than just a bad decision. The public placed its trust in this defendant. She abused it. There's no other way to put it. She knowingly and intentionally gave away public funds.”
Daily Herald reports Martin offered an apology, saying she was “embarrassed by the decision I made.”
DuPage County Judge Kleeman, placed her on probation for three years in addition to the jail sentence of 30 days. Daily Herald reports she was also ordered to pay $21,000 in restitution.
Fox News reports she was placed on administrative leave from her position and it is expected that she would be fired.
Daily Mail reports her boyfriend, Jones, was charged with felony theft and state benefit fraud, but he is on the run, Fox News reports.