Candice Lynn Heath

Photo courtesy of PCSO
Sports Writer

A McAlester woman pleaded guilty Monday in Pittsburg County District Court to welfare fraud related charges.

Candice Lynn Heath, 30, pleaded guilty to obtaining food stamps by fraud and false claims against the state. She was convicted of the first charge, and received a two-year suspended sentence. Sentencing was deferred for 10 years on the second charge.

Heath was also fined $500 and then she was ordered to pay more than $55,000 in restitution, court documents indicate.

In an interview with the News-Capital, Heath said that she was “ambushed” by investigators in the case, that the information in the court documents were incorrect and that she felt she had no choice but to pleaded guilty. “We have nine kids,” Heath said. “My kids are still scared to death of the cops.”

Christopher J. Comer, a state of Oklahoma law enforcement agent and an investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General, investigated the case against Heath’s acts of food stamp fraud.

During his investigation, Comer discovered that Heath had applied for food benefits from 2007 until 2011. In her applications, she stated that she lived at a residence on C Street in McAlester with her three children and had no family income.

According to Comer’s affidavit, these statements by Heath were untrue. During his investigation, Comer discovered that Heath, and her three children, lived with Heath’s husband at a residence on Anderson Road in McAlester.

Her husband, David Heath, “is gainfully employed and has a monthly income which would make him and his current family totally ineligible to receive SNAP (food stamps) benefits,” Comer’s affidavit states.

During his investigation, Comer discovered all sorts of evidence that Candice Heath, and her children, lived with her husband and had a family income, including multiple years of tax returns that the couple filed jointly.

“The audit of SNAP benefits shows Candice Heath received approximately $20,100 in benefits for which she was not entitled to receive due to her un-reported household income,” Comer’s affidavit states.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

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