Jeffrey Alan Albrecht and Lisa Shanks Albrecht Plead Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on January 27, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, JEFFREY ALAN ALBRECHT, age 42, and LISA SHANKS ALBRECHT, age 42, residents of Kalispell, pled guilty to government program fraud. Sentencing is set for May 1, 2009. They are currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Between April 2005 and December 2007, the ALBRECHTS made false statements on their Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (MDPHHS) application, recertification and six-month reports, and they received $7,868 in USDA food stamp benefits they were not entitled to.
The ALBRECHT household had been on federal assistance for some time when, on February 23, 2005, LISA ALBRECHT signed a Six-Month Report confirming a qualifying household income of $1,758.81 and $300 in child support as their only income. Previous application and case notes showed the income was from LISA ALBRECHT'S employment at SUBWAY.
For benefits, the ALBRECHTS claimed a household population of seven. On March 3, 2005, a notice was sent to the ALBRECHTS advising them that they were required to report when their household gross monthly income (GMI) was more than $3,076, no later than the 10th day of the month after the change occurred.
On September 1, 2005, as a result of LISA ALBRECHT'S failure to attend a recertification interview, the ALBRECHTS' food stamp case file was closed.
On February 14, 2006, JEFFREY and LISA ALBRECHT completed a new application for assistance.
On February 27, 2006, JEFFREY ALBRECHT advised MDPHHS that he was not working and had applied for social security disability. LISA ALBRECHT, he advised, was employed at Ross Department Store. JEFFREY ALBRECHT also provided a Rights and Responsibilities Form confirming that he was aware of his responsibility to advise the government if the ALBRECHTS' GMI exceeded $3,156. JEFFREY and LISA ALBRECHT had previously signed the Rights and Responsibilities Form on February 14, 2006, indicating they read and understood the form.
On July 31, 2006, LISA ALBRECHT completed a Six-Month Report and indicated there were no changes.
On August 8, 2006, LISA ALBRECHT told the MDPHHS that there were no changes to the household composition, that she had been promoted to a manager and that JEFFREY ALBRECHT had been denied social security benefits.
On August 17, 2006, an anonymous caller advised the MDPHHS that JEFFREY ALBRECHT was working fulltime as a truck driver. The MDPHHS was able to confirm employment for JEFFREY ALBRECHT in the second quarter of 2006. A request for employment verification was sent to the ALBRECHTS. They failed to respond to the request for employment verification.
The database showed that JEFFREY ALBRECHT had been working at Bear Naked Paving. MDPHHS closed the family's Medicaid account but they were continued on food stamps pending the ALBRECHTS' provision of employment verification at their next recertification.
On January 8, 2007, MDPHHS received a signed recertification form from the ALBRECHTS. They wrote their only wages came from LISA ALBRECHT'S employment at Ross.
On January 12, 2007, LISA and JEFFREY ALBRECHT were interviewed. They advised that LISA ALBRECHT was still employed at Ross and JEFFREY ALBRECHT was exempt from work registration because he was caring for a six-year-old child. JEFFREY ALBRECHT was questioned about the previous case worker's concern that he had been working. He advised that he had only worked a couple days for the paving company and that he had applied for unemployment insurance.
On June 27, 2007, LISA ALBRECHT signed a Six-Month Report and made no changes regarding income or employment.
On July 24, 2007, however, MDPHHS received four wage stubs for JEFFREY ALBRECHT from Dutton Hauling. The wages stubs covered the periods he worked from April 11, 2007, through June 10, 2007. Dutton Hauling later provided more complete employment information to a fraud investigator advising that JEFFREY ALBRECHT began employment on or about March 25, 2005, and worked through approximately December 14, 2007.
As a result of their scheme, the ALBRECHTS received approximately $7,868 in food stamp benefits and $1,022 in Medicaid benefits to which they were not entitled.
JEFFREY ALBRECHT faces possible penalties of 1 year in prison, a $250,000 fine and 1 year supervised release.
LISA ALBRECHT faces possible penalties of 10 yearS in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was conducted by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The "Trick for Treat Project" is a cooperative initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney's Office which targets fraud in food stamp and related programs, particularly with regard to lying about the amount of household income, the number of household members, or other factors which affect eligibility for need-based benefits. Through vigorous prosecution of offenders, the agencies seek to protect the integrity of the Food Stamp Program and insure that such benefits go only to those qualified and entitled to receive them. To report all suspected welfare fraud, please call 1-800-424-9121.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.