AUGUSTA — Three people on Monday were given jail sentences for their schemes to steal money from state welfare programs.

Walter Trask, 60, and his wife, 59-year-old Kathryn Trask, both of Augusta, were each sentenced to two years in prison with all but 30 days suspended and two years’ probation for receiving more than $39,000 in state aid for which they were ineligible. Justice Andrew Horton, who imposed the sentence, also ordered each of the Trasks to pay $18,000 in restitution, or a total of $36,000. The Trasks were ordered to pay at least $5 per month toward that total.

In an unrelated case, Horton sentenced Connie Wheeler, 42, of Whitefield, to three years in prison with all but 90 days suspended and two years’ probation. Wheeler, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception, stole more than $17,000 from the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by creating the impression that her husband was not earning income.

Wheeler was ordered to pay $25 in restitution, but Horton determined she currently lacked the ability to repay the remaining sum, according to court documents.

The Trasks last month each pleaded guilty to charges of unsworn falsification and two counts of theft by deception.

The Trasks’ attorneys last month said the Trasks pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine, which is not an admission of guilt, but means they believe they could be found guilty if a jury believed the state’s evidence.


Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell said last month that the couple married in 1989, and that Kathryn Trask applied for state assistance while living in West Gardiner. Later Walter Trask said he had left her and was homeless, living in his van.

Mitchell said that wasn’t true and that witnesses, including property owners and landlords, would testify that the Trasks lived together in a mobile home on Tommy Road before moving to Randolph. In 2007, Walter Trask reported he was living in a separate renovated garage.

The charges against Walter Trask spanned June 2007-June 2012. The charges against Kathryn Trask spanned June 2007-May 2012.

Mitchell told the judge both delivered newspapers for the Kennebec Journal “and had income that was not reported to (the Department of Health and Human Services).” The Trasks were independent contractors with the newspaper’s circulation department.

Mitchell said the Trasks had three joint bank accounts and that their combined unreported income indicates that they were overpaid a total of $39,161 in benefits from food stamps, MaineCare and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance programs.

Justice Michaela Murphy accepted the pleas and continued the case for several weeks for sentencing. Mitchell said the plea agreement calls for each to be sentenced to two years in jail with all but 30 days suspended and two years’ probation.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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