Woman ordered to repay thousands in public assistance

Cris Ritchie — Editor

October 22, 2013

HAZARD—A Breathitt County woman who pleaded guilty last week to giving false statements to receive public assistance could spend the next 25 years on probation as she attempts to make restitution.

The grand jury in Perry County indicted 36-year-old Connie S. McIntosh in April on one count of fraudulently obtaining public benefits, a Class D felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. She was alleged to have failed to report her correct household income, and as a result was overpaid more than $15,000 in public assistance benefits between December 2010 and July 2012.

McIntosh appeared in circuit court on Thursday and entered a guilty plea to an amended charge of false statement/misrepresentation to receive benefits, a misdemeanor. In exchange for her plea, she was sentenced to two years probation and to pay $15,390 in restitution. Her probation could very well extend past the two-year mark, however, as McIntosh was ordered to pay restitution at a rate of $50 per month as part of the agreement. If she pays only the minimum, it could take just over 25 years to pay the amount in full.

Before accepting the agreement, Circuit Judge William Engle advised McIntosh that her sentence will be in effect until the probationary period is over or until she pays restitution in full, whichever occurs last. If by the end of two years she has still not paid the ordered restitution, her probation will remain intact until it is paid.

Defense attorney Patrick O’Neill said McIntosh is aware of the time frame, adding she will attempt to find employment and begin making more substantial payments. But at present, any payment schedule higher than $50 per month would present a situation where she might not be able to comply with the sentence.

McIntosh is due back in court for a status hearing in January.