Muncie woman sentenced for stealing children’s benefits

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. –A Muncie woman convicted for stealing nearly $200,000 in benefits that were meant to go to her children was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison.

55-year-old Kimberly Harper was accused of stealing her disabled son’s Social Security disability funds, public housing assistance, and food stamps.

United States Attorney Josh Minkler said, “For over 20 years, Harper did not raise or support her children. Instead, she stole from them, including her son who was born with a severe mental disability.”  Minkler went on to say, “This money was meant for the care of her children and she selfishly spent it on herself.”

Harper has four children, one of which struggles with a severe form of autism.  According to court documents, in the early 1990’s when her children were toddlers, Harper refused to care for them any longer and handed them off to her parents, who raised the children.  At the same time, Harper applied to the Social Security Administration for disability benefits on behalf of her autistic child.  Instead of supporting her son with that money  as she was required to do, court records say she spent it for herself.

Similar arrangements were made to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for public housing assistance and Indiana Family Social Services Administration for food stamps.  Court documents say she claimed the benefits were for her children and then spent the money for her own benefit.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Nick Linder, who prosecuted the case for the government, Harper must make full restitution and serve three years of supervised release after her sentence.