Jury Convicts Linn County Woman of Welfare Fraud
PORTLAND, Ore. – On Thursday, April 6, 2017, a federal jury found a Lebanon, Ore. woman guilty of wire fraud and theft. Jamie Faye Cobat, 52, was convicted of stealing approximately $29,000 in welfare benefits by making false claims about her household composition and resources.
Federal and state agents began investigating Cobat in 2014 after social workers received allegations that Cobat’s teenage son could no longer live with her because she was living with a convicted sex offender. Further investigation determined that Cobat told the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Oregon Department of Human Services (Oregon DHS) that her son was living her, which enabled her to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits. In fact, her son had not lived with her for more than two years.
According to court records and trial testimony, Cobat began living with her partner at his home in Lebanon in August 2012 after his release from prison. At that time, Cobat’s son went to live with his father due to the partner’s post-prison supervision conditions prohibiting his contact with minors. In August 2014, Cobat and her partner married. Between August 2012 and November 2014, Cobat made repeated false statements to SSA and Oregon DHS that her son was living with her, that she and her husband did not live together and that she was not married. As a result, she received $19,247 in SSI, $5,825 in SNAP (commonly referred to as food stamps), and $2,845 in TANF benefits.
Cobat will be sentenced on July 13, 2017 before United States District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.
The case was investigated by the SSA Office of Inspector General and Oregon DHS, and prosecuted by Helen Cooper and Gavin Bruce, Assistant United States Attorneys for the District of Oregon.