Superior woman pleads guilty to welfare fraud in MinnesotaA Superior woman admitted Wednesday that she obtained more than $17,000 in welfare benefits from Minnesota that she wasn’t entitled to while living in Wisconsin.
By: By Mark Stodghillemail@example.com, Superior Telegram
A Superior woman admitted Wednesday that she obtained more than $17,000 in welfare benefits from Minnesota that she wasn’t entitled to while living in Wisconsin.
Tessa Cherese Weatherspoon, 34, pleaded guilty in St. Louis County District Court to wrongfully obtaining assistance.
Under terms of the plea agreement, Weatherspoon will receive a stay of adjudication and the crime will be wiped from her record if she repays the money within two years. She will receive a stay of imposition of a sentence and have the felony removed from her record if she repays the money within three years.
Weatherspoon pleaded guilty to wrongfully obtaining (medical) assistance. Two other crimes — wrongfully obtaining food stamps and wrongfully obtaining Minnesota Family Investment Program cash assistance — will be dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Mark Munger ordered an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer to investigate Weatherspoon’s background before sentencing on Aug. 9.
An investigator with the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office was informed of the alleged crimes by the St. Louis County Fraud Prevention Unit last July.
The complaint alleged that Weatherspoon received $7,708.31 in medical assistance, $5,630 in food stamps and $3,735 in Minnesota Family Investment Program money for a total of $17,073.31 that she was not entitled to.
An investigation revealed that Weatherspoon signed a lease for an apartment in Superior in November 2009. She signed a form in St. Louis County in January 2010 to re-certify her welfare benefits and listed her residence as the Safe Haven Shelter in Duluth. Safe Haven’s records indicate that she left there in November 2009 and didn’t return.
A rental company confirmed to an investigator that Weatherspoon lived on Hughitt Avenue in Superior. Another agency said the defendant applied for emergency assistance in Superior on Nov. 25, 2009, to secure housing there. The agency paid part of the defendant’s damage deposit on a Superior apartment. City utilities were connected on the apartment. The Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency provided rental payment assistance.
The state of Minnesota paid premiums for medical assistance for Weatherspoon to First Plan Blue. First Plan paid $6,314 for child birth and newborn care when the defendant’s youngest child was born in December 2009. Because Weatherspoon was a resident of Wisconsin at the time, she was ineligible to receive the benefits.
An investigator with the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office interviewed Weatherspoon in November. He said the defendant admitted that she was living in Wisconsin while receiving Minnesota benefits. She also admitted that she had signed all of the application forms and that she lied about her residence. She said she did not want to go through the hassle of re-applying for benefits in Wisconsin, and that she did not want to have to wait 30 days for eligibility in Wisconsin.
Because the defendant’s residence was in Wisconsin starting in November 2009, her family was ineligible for Minnesota benefits starting in December 2009.