An Anchorage woman who prosecutors say deceived the state office of public assistance for years has been convicted of felony theft and ordered to repay $8,510.
A fraud investigator found that Anchorage resident Brenna Marie Lowe, 48, failed to disclose that her child's biological father was living with her and earning "significant income" as a city employee even as Lowe received food stamps and other benefits, according to the Department of Law.
Lowe said in an interview Friday that she did not know she was filing inaccurate paperwork with the state and only pleaded guilty to the charge on the advice of her lawyer. "I was not trying to defraud them intentionally at all," she said.
The fraud took place between October 2004 and September 2008, according to the criminal complaint.
The father, identified in the charges as Larry E. Marshall, has worked as a light equipment supervisor for the Anchorage maintenance department since 2003, a city spokeswoman said.
Marshall was making about $67,000 to $82,000 a year over the four-year period that Lowe was accused of fraud, according to the city. In 2010, Lowe told a fraud investigator that she did not declare Marshall as someone living in her household because he did not contribute to her personal living expenses, the charges say.
Marshall said he and Lowe have never been married and that he has custody of their 12-year-old daughter. Lowe lives with him, he said, but he does not pay any of her bills beyond room and board.
"I got some responsibility, I made a child with her," Marshall said.
Lowe suffers from epilepsy and requires the public assistance, he said.
Marshall has not been charged in connection with the theft, court records show. Lowe's failure to accurately report the composition of her household resulted in her receiving more public assistance -- including $6,949 in food stamps -- than she was entitled to, according to the complaint.
Lowe was convicted Friday. Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller sentenced her to five years of probation and 60 hours of community service, in addition to paying restitution to the state. Lowe may not receive benefits through the Alaska Temporary Assistance Program for six months and may not receive food stamps for one year, prosecutors say.
Lowe's criminal history includes convictions for shoplifting, assault, drunken driving, larceny and forgery, according to the complaint.