PORTLAND — A Lewiston woman pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing money from three welfare programs.

Sherry Awadjie, 45, admitted to theft from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, MaineCare and the Social Security Administration, according to a written release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The total was more than $20,000, according to court documents.

She is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and is expected to be sentenced after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

According to court documents, Awadjie received public assistance benefits from November 2015 until May 2017 from SNAP, formerly called food stamps, MaineCare, which is the name of Maine’s Medicaid program, and SSA after she claimed to be disabled and not earning any income.

Awadjie actually had been employed and earning income from as early as November 2015 but didn’t disclose that information to any of the programs. She failed to disclose any income on periodic reports she was required to file with the government.

She also kept secret her job by arranging with her employer that she be paid “under the table” and, later, under a different name.

Had she disclosed her employment and income, she wouldn’t have been eligible for the benefits she received, including $3,492 in SNAP benefits, $1,654 in MaineCare benefits and $15,072 in Social Security benefits.

Her case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General, and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit.

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