Wendy Renee Houser-Bond Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on December 5, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, WENDY RENEE HOUSER-BOND, a 38-year-old resident of Kalispell, pled guilty to theft of federal property by fraud. Sentencing has been set for March 20, 2013. She is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Between September 20, 2002, and December 6, 2008, HOUSER-BOND applied for and received food stamps based on the financial condition and composition of her household. For significant periods of time during this period both HOUSER-BOND and her husband were working. However, as HOUSER-BOND applied for and received these welfare benefits, through concealment and fraudulent statements, she misrepresented her household composition and failed to reveal that she and her husband had earned approximately $310,000 during this six year period. These circumstances - household composition and family income - if truthfully disclosed, would have affected her eligibility for federal benefits.
The State of Montana discovered the truth and confronted HOUSER-BOND, at which time she admitted that she had intentionally mislead the government.
On June 26, 2009, HOUSER-BOND was found to have committed an Intentional Program Violation and advised of her rights to a hearing. On or about December 17, 2010, HOUSER-BOND was told to repay $29,000.
At some point prior to December 2010, HOUSER-BOND and her family relocated to Washington State. She again applied for and received welfare benefits between September 28, 2010, and May of 2011, when she returned to Montana. During her benefit receipt period in Washington State, HOUSER-BOND concealed employment income she was obligated to disclose - resulting in an overpayment of $7,432 in SNAP benefits and $2,722 in TANF benefits for a total overpayment of $10,154.
On June 30, 2011, in Flathead County, HOUSER-BOND signed up for SNAP benefits. She received benefits from June 2011 through May 2012. During this second period of benefits in Montana, HOUSER-BOND completed applications wherein she misrepresented her household income by concealing her husband's income, and falsely indicated that they had separated and he had moved out of the home. She was again discovered and admitted to the deception. On May 31, 2012, HOUSER-BOND was notified by the State of Montana that she had received an overpayment in SNAP benefits in the amount of $1,696.
By concealing facts that would have affected her eligibility, HOUSER-BOND received approximately $40,850 in USDA food stamps and HHS TANF payments to which she was not entitled. She has agreed to make restitution for all three fraud periods.
HOUSER-BOND faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Office of Inspector General.