Casper Woman Denies Defrauding Department of Family Services
A Casper woman charged with fraudulently obtaining state benefits has denied the single felony count filed against her in Natrona County District Court.
Angelee Khristina Lewallen pleaded not guilty Thursday to one count of obtaining goods by false pretenses. She could face up to 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
Charging papers say in March 2015, a benefit specialist with the Wyoming Department of Family Services referred Lewallen's public assistance case to the department's Fraud and Recovery Unit, which is based in Cheyenne.
In her report, the benefit specialist detailed an interview she conducted with Lewallen, who had filed for public assistance. When discussing Lewallen's unearned income, Lewallen reportedly said the father of her children "goes out of his way to make the [sic] sure the kids have what they need."
According to the report, Lewallen said she would call the children's father when the children needed something, and he would bring it to the promptly. Lewallen also allegedly said the father pays all the household bills, paying utility companies directly, without giving her any money.
The DFS worker then asked Lewallen to provide a written statement from the father, detailing whether he gives her any money and whether that money would be in lieu of child support. At that point, Lewallen reportedly became very angry and said she did not want to involve the father any more than she had to.
The benefit specialist became confused, as Lewallen had reportedly said the father would come right over any time the children needed something. Lewallen had also said she barely speaks with her children's father, yet he was able to bring things over for the children without issue.
"Looking back at the case, they bought a house when she said they were not together and also had another baby together," reads an excerpt of the report included in the affidavit.
The DFS worker then mentioned calling the father for clarification on Lewallen's statements. Lewallen was allegedly adamant that the father not be contacted.
In early August 2016, an investigator with the DFS Fraud and Recovery Unit sent a letter to Lewallen, instructing her to meet at the Casper DFS office several days later in order to discuss her public assistance case.
The morning of the scheduled interview, Lewallen called the Casper DFS office and said she wouldn't be able to make the appointment because she was unable to find a babysitter.
"I know I didn't do anything wrong," Lewallen reportedly said during the phone call. She said her babysitter had to go out of town, and "no one else can watch the children."
The appointment was rescheduled for two days later, on Aug. 19.
Lewallen attended that appointment. She told DFS investigators that she and her children's father had an "on again/off again" relationship."
When questioned about Lewallen's joint bank account with the father -- from which bank employees said Lewallen was never removed -- Lewallen said, "Well, I never use it."
Lewallen ended up writing a statement, requesting that her public assistance case be closed.
Following that interview, an investigator called the children's father and asked whether he was at work. The father said he was not working, but was watching the children.
Three days later, a bank employee confirmed to investigators that Lewallen was the only account holder on the Lewallen bank account who had a debit card. Further, transactions were being made with that card.
Food assistance benefits listed in the affidavit, provided from August 2012 through November 2015, total $9,512.
Lewallen remains free on bond pending trial.