AUGUSTA — A Litchfield man was convicted Friday of seven criminal charges related to welfare fraud over a five-year period.

Philip Justin Fitzherbert, 30, remains free on $3,500 cash bail following a two-day jury trial held at the Capital Judicial Center. A sentencing hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the same courthouse.

Fitzherbert was convicted of two counts of theft by deception and five counts of unsworn falsification. A count of attempted theft by deception was dismissed by the state and did not go to the jury for consideration.

According to the indictment, Fitzherbert received more than $10,000 from the government from June 2008 to November 2013 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, MaineCare and the State Supplement Program by falsely indicating that his only income was from Social Security or other public assistance. The second theft by deception charge says Fitzherbert received $1,000 to $10,000 from the federal Supplemental Security Income program from November 2010 to September 2013 again by falsely indicating his only income was from Social Security or other public assistance.

The other five charges involved unsworn falsification on benefits applications forms filed from August 2011 to June 2013, all in Kennebec County.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell, told jurors that Fitzherbert received $22,404.09 from the state Department of Health & Human Services and $5,160 from the Supplemental Security Income program over the five-year period.

She said Fitzherbert failed to report the income he was receiving from an annuity.

During the trial, several Department of Health and Human Service workers testified that notes in their files indicate that in 2004 and 2006 Fitzherbert indicated he lived in a camper on his own land and that he had a bank account at a credit union with $25.

One worker testified that at that time she had 800 to 1,000 clients in her caseload and was unable to verify everything that applicants told her.

Another worker, Diane Bates, testified that Fitzherbert was eligible for Temporary Aid to Needy Families, food stamps and MaineCare because he received Social Security income. She said he came to her office in person on May 7, 2008, saying he needed money for food and medication.

Fitzherbert was defended by attorney Harold Hainke.

Copies of benefits applications submitted to the department indicate that Fitzherbert at times received about $700 to $800 in monthly benefits and spent about $275 to $300 in monthly utility costs. He lists addresses in West Gardiner and Litchfield at various times.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 


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