Women from Allenstown, Boscawen plead guilty to welfare benefits fraud

Monitor staff
Thursday, April 28, 2016

Two local women pleaded guilty to welfare fraud, U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice announced Wednesday.

Kim Wheeler, 46, of Allenstown pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of Social Security fraud and two counts of theft of public money.

Bonita Kitson, 44, of Boscawen pleaded guilty to counts of Social Security fraud, making false statements and wire fraud.

Both women are accused of not disclosing information that allowed them to receive more welfare benefits than for which they were eligible. Wheeler began getting Social Security disability benefits in 2005 as the representative payee for her child, who was under 18 years old.

Wheeler also received food stamps and qualified Medicare beneficiary benefits in 2010. She failed to disclose, however, that her husband, who was employed full-time, lived with her and her children. This would have made their child ineligible to receive any Supplemental Security Income benefits, and Wheeler wouldn’t have gotten any food stamps and qualified Medicare beneficiary benefits either.

Gray Rice said Wheeler concealed her husband’s true residence from the Social Security Administration and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and when he later moved out of the home, she also didn’t report the alimony and child support she received from him.

As a result, Wheeler received $49,636.44 in disability benefits as her child’s representative payee, $12,372 in food stamps, and $5,041 in qualified Medicare beneficiary benefits that she otherwise wouldn’t have had.

In Kitson’s case, she and her late husband received an extra $27,654 in disability benefits and food stamps, as well as $1,134 in aid to the permanently and totally disabled to which she was not entitled. Kitson received these benefits for more than two years before getting married in 2010, though after wedding her husband – who also got Social Security disability benefits and food stamps – neither reported their marriage to the Social Security Administration or HHS.

“To the contrary, Kitson advised both agencies that she and her husband were merely friends,” Gray Rice said.

Kitson didn’t disclose the marriage until October 2014, when she notified the Social Security Administration that her husband died a month earlier. She noted this in an application for a lump-sum death benefit.

Both women will be sentenced in the summer following a review of their pre-sentencing reports, and both were released on conditions.

Wheeler faces up to 10 years imprisonment, and Kitson faces a maximum of 20 years.