Julle Loretta Engel-getz Pleads 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 Helena on April 15, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, JULLE LORETTA ENGEL-GETZ, a 43-year-old resident of Helena, entered a nolo contendere plea to federal food stamp fraud. Sentencing is set for July 10, 2009. She is 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:
From June 2004 through December 2007, ENGEL-GETZ received food stamps.
Beginning on May 4, 2005, ENGEL-GETZ signed a Redetermination/Recertification Report and a Rights and Responsibilities Form which advised her of the reporting requirement if her household gross monthly income (GMI) exceeded $2,043. Her signature indicated an acknowledgment that she was aware of this requirement.
On October 31, 2005, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services received a Six-Month Report and a hand written letter dated October 20, 2005, wherein ENGEL-GETZ wrote on her six month report under household's gross monthly income: "same as on file, still looking for work." On her written letter she wrote, "Still currently looking for work."
On April 26, 2006, ENGEL-GETZ signed a Recertification stating no one in the household was receiving wages from employment.
On May 1, 2006, ENGEL-GETZ was telephonically interviewed and stated that she was not working at the time.
On May 12, 2006, she signed a Rights and Responsibilities Form which again informed her of the reporting requirement for a substantial change in family circumstances, specifically if her household gross monthly income (GMI) subsequently exceeded $2,097.
On October 24, 2006, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services received ENGEL-GETZ'S Six-Month Report wherein she wrote that "Both Z.A. [son] and I are currently looking for employment."
On April 18, 2007, ENGEL-GETZ signed a Recertification, noting that "Julle and Z.A. both looking for employment."
On May 1, 2007, ENGEL-GETZ, during a personal interview with welfare officers, stated that she had a few babysitting jobs but no other income. She then signed the Rights and Responsibilities Form which once again advised her of the reporting requirement if her household gross monthly income (GMI) exceeded $2,167.
Employment records from Advance America, a cash advance business, and Westaff, an employment agency, show that ENGEL-GETZ was employed from October 12, 2005, through September 8, 2006. She was then employed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montana from September 5, 2006, to September 18, 2007.
In addition, between January 2006 and December 2007, ENGEL-GETZ received $570 per month in child support that she did not report to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Her employment income and unreported child support, if it had been disclosed, would have disqualified her for all or some of the welfare benefits she received from November 2005 through September 2007.
As a result of her failure to disclose employment and child support, and her false statements regarding household income - which would have made her ineligible for assistance, ENGEL-GETZ received approximately $10,960 in food stamp benefits to which she was not entitled.
ENGEL-GETZ 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General.
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.