Welfare Fraud Conviction in Houston County

Attorney General Troy King and Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska announce the conviction of a woman in Houston County Circuit Court on a charge of welfare fraud.

“When people lie to receive welfare benefits to which they are not entitled, they are commiting a crime against the State, the taxpaying public, and those who are truly deserving of welfare benefits,” said Attorney General King.

“I take seriously my responsibility as Attorney General to protect public funds on behalf of the people of Alabama and pledge to prosecute those who break the law by abusing the welfare system.”

Toshiba Lawanna Johnson, 32, of Dothan, pleaded guilty September 9 to first-degree theft of property in the amount of $15,582. She was sentenced to five years. A restitution and probation hearing has been set for October 15.

The Attorney General and District Attorney commended Assistant Attorney Ferris Stephens and Special Investigator Larry Chambers for their work in handling this case.

Attorney General King also thanked the Department of Human Resources in Houston County for its assistance in preparing information and referring the matter to the Attorney General’s Office for review and appropriate action, noting in particular Mary Paulk, director of Houston County Department of Human Resources; Kelli Weeks, caseworker, Houston County DHR; Gloria Detmer, claims worker, East Alabama Regional Claims unit; and Jim McFall, supervisor, East Alabama Regional Claims unit.

Paulk stated, “Our claims workers, along with the Attorney General and District Attorneys’ offices, are committed to making sure those eligible do receive the benefits they are supposed to, and that those who withhold information are prosecuted.”

The Houston County case is part of a continuing statewide effort by Attorney General King to aggressively investigate and prosecute welfare fraud. Prosecutions are pending in approximately 38 counties, including Dale and Covington counties.

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