September 26, 2012

Clinton welfare cheat who stole $47,000 gets 9 months

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA – A Clinton woman who admitted stealing nearly $47,000 in welfare benefits over a five-year period by falsely claiming her three children lived with her will spend at least nine months in prison.

Theresa M. Rice-Goodrich, 32, was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison, with all but nine months and one day suspended, and two years of probation.

She was ordered to report to jail on Oct. 1.

She had pleaded guilty Sept. 13 in Kennebec County Superior Court to theft by deception and unsworn falsification. The sentencing was postponed after the judge requested attorneys provide a sampling of sentences in similar cases.

On Tuesday, Justice Michaela Murphy said she would accept the sentence that was jointly recommended by the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell, and defense attorney Lisa Whittier.

Mitchell said Rice-Goodrich misrepresented that her three children lived with her from January 2006 through August 2011 in order to benefit from the Temporary Aid to Needy Families and Food Stamps programs, according to court records.

She told the judge that the children lived with other relatives, including grandparents, during that time except for a three-month period in 2010.

Rice-Goodrich also was convicted of domestic violence assault, which occurred April 17 in Waterville.

Her court filed contains a copy of a food stamp application signed Feb. 10, 2009, by Rice-Goodrich that named her and her three children as members of her household.

Rice-Goodrich was ordered to pay restitution of $46,394 and banned from contact with the victim of the assault as a condition of probation.

Whittier said Rice-Goodrich's income was Social Security disability, and she had other debts as well.

Whittier said her client took responsibility for the offenses, did not have long criminal history and that the longest stretch she has spent in jail previously was 23 days.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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