Seven indicted on charges of welfare fraud

April 12, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

In the first major investigation of welfare fraud in Carroll County, seven people have been accused of bilking the system out of as much as $32,000 each since 1991.

A Carroll County grand jury handed up the indictments last month after the Carroll state's attorney's office began taking a "harder look" at welfare recipients who turn to the prosecutor's office for collection of child support.

"We're really beginning to focus on welfare fraud, now that we have the manpower to do it," said Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, who presented the cases against the seven defendants to the grand jury.

Indicted by the grand jury are:

* Melissa Renee Barnes, 30, of the 100 block of E. Green St., Westminster. She is charged with two counts of felony theft, two counts of conspiracy to commit theft, 12 counts of welfare fraud, and two counts of conspiracy to commit welfare fraud. Authorities say she received $32,975 in welfare benefits between August 1991 and August 1993.

* Terry Lee Barnes, 41, of the same address, is also charged with taking part in the theft of $32,975, and faces similar charges.

* Barbara Jean Barrett, 28, of the 3900 block of Old Taneytown Road, Taneytown, is charged with felony theft, conspiracy to commit felony theft and one count of welfare fraud. She is accused of receiving more than $8,300 in benefits between December 1992 and September 1993.

* Michael David Schweiger, 29, of the same address, is also charged with taking part in the theft of $8,300, and faces similar charges.

* Tammy Latrice Johnson, 24, of the 4200 block of Pine Field Court, Randallstown, is charged with four counts of welfare fraud and one count of felony theft. She is accused of receiving more than $5,200 in benefits between May 1992 and June 1993.

* James David Kesselring, 37, of the 1400 block of Blackfoot Court, Finksburg, is charged with four counts of welfare fraud and one count of theft. He is accused of receiving more than $2,700 in benefits between July and December 1992.

* Richard E. Martin II, 29, of the 300 block of Stone Road, Westminster, is charged with one count of theft and one count of welfare fraud. He is accused of receiving more than $3,000 in benefits between June 1991 and February 1992.

"There is no difference between the theft of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 of public funds and the theft of cash from somebody's house," Mr. Walker said yesterday. "If cash is taken from your drawer, you're the only victim, but in the other case, all of the public is affected."

Mr. Walker noted that all the people indicted face felony charges that could put them in jail for more than 15 years if they are convicted. No trial dates have been set.

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