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Racine woman fined for fraudulent childcare benefits

  • Updated

RACINE — A Racine woman was fined $350 on Friday as punishment for fraudulently collecting more than $4,000 in public assistance benefits for day care services for her children when she wasn’t actually working.

Heather N. Adams, 31, pleaded no contest on Friday to an amended count of misdemeanor public assistance fraud. She collected $4,333.42 between Aug. 22, 2010, and Oct. 23, 2010, according to Racine County sheriff’s reports, while claiming to work second shift. But Adams’ employer told investigators that during this two-month span, Adams only worked four evening shifts, according to sheriff’s reports. She was working first shift at that time, Racine County Assistant District Attorney Noah Wishau said during Friday’s plea and sentencing hearing.

Adams already has repaid the entire sum, he added.

“That is the reason for the amendment to the misdemeanor and the (reason for) the recommendation of the fine,” Wishau said.

“I do take full responsibility for my actions. I did commit this crime,” Adams said during the hearing. “I’m just ready to get all of this behind me.”

Circuit Court Judge Tim Boyle sentenced Adams to pay a $350 fine plus court costs, despite defense attorney Michael Barth’s request for a $50 fine. He argued that Adams had fully repaid the sum before prosecutors charged her in August. She was charged at that time with one count of felony public assistance fraud, according to her criminal complaint.

Repaying the fraudulently collected amount “isn’t punitive,” Boyle said. “You’re just doing what you have to do.”

The amended misdemeanor charge was punishable by a maximum of nine months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines, Wishau said.

Adams admitted to making “a lot of poor decisions in my past,” but told Boyle she is trying to change. She began to cry, saying she has been raising her four children alone for the past 13 years and her criminal record — which court records show includes six misdemeanor convictions in Racine and Milwaukee counties and Cook County, Ill. — precludes her from volunteering at their schools.

“I’m their only role model,” Adams said. “All my childrens’ fathers are in prison.”

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