Three Floyd County women are facing felony charges after allegedly getting more than $68,000, collectively, in food stamps, Medicaid and other types of financial support they were not qualified to receive.
A Floyd County grand jury indicted Tina Spears, 32, of Cliffside in Prestonsburg, Felicia Jenkins, 42, of Ky. 680 in McDowell, and Jennifer Shepherd, 41, of Ky. 122 in Hi Hat, on felony charges of giving false statements or misrepresentation to receive benefits over $100.
Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner said Spears, Jenkins and Shepherd are accused of failing to report that their husbands were living with them, and his salary made them ineligible for benefits.
He said failing to report income of a spouse or significant other who lives in the residence is “actually pretty commonly heard of” in Floyd County.
“That’s the most common reason that we hear,” Turner said.
Spears was indicted on four counts of the felony for failing to report a change in income in order to receive food stamps, or SNAP, benefits between 2014 and 2016, to receive Kentucky Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits between 2012 and 2014 and to receive Medicaid benefits and Medicaid managed care benefits between 2017 and 2019.
Turner reported that Spears allegedly received over $47,000 in benefits she was not eligible to receive during those timeframes.
“The Inspector General’s office alleges that she was ineligible for those benefits because of a husband living in the home and she failed to report ... he was actually working and making $7,000 to $10,000 per quarter, is what they’re alleging, doing, like, pipeline construction,” Turner said.
Jenkins and Shepherd were each indicted on one count of the felony.
Jenkins is accused of failing to report a change in benefits in order to receive $16,024 in SNAP benefits between 2012 and 2018.
Shepherd is accused of failing to report a change in income in order to receive $5,287 in SNAP benefits between 2016 and 2018.
These cases were brought to the grand jury by Thomas Bartley, a special investigator at the Kentucky Office of Inspector General.
When asked about the importance of bringing these types of cases to court, Turner talked about how the funds that were allegedly illegally received could help other people in need.
“Obviously, we have limited resources when it comes to providing benefits to people that need them and we live in an area where there’s a lot of people that need help,” he said. “So, it’s important that those valuable resources be available to be used for the people that deserve them, and not be diverted or used for people that are, essentially, you know, cheating the system.”
In these cases, he said, his office makes obtaining restitution for the government programs a priority.
Editor’s note: An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.