Woman accused of swindling $192K in DHS benefits - KPTV - FOX 12

Woman accused of swindling $192K in DHS benefits

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Katie Burns (Courtesy: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office) Katie Burns (Courtesy: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

A Portland woman is accused of providing false information to the Oregon Department of Human Services in order to receive over $192,000 in welfare benefits.

Katie Burns, 27, was arrested Thursday by Multnomah County deputies.

According to court documents, an investigation conducted by DHS revealed Burns had given false information to DHS officials regarding her financial history, financial resources, and household composition.

Court documents state that between June 2008 and May 2015, Burns filed 16 applications or updates with DHS requesting benefits through various programs.

Over that time period, Burns claims she had four children with a man named Ryan Zimmers.

Burns stated multiple times on her welfare applications that Zimmers did not live with her and her children and she did not want the state to initiate child support proceedings against him.

Court documents said Burns continuously claimed she was the only adult in the house, did not have an income of over $150 a month, did not expect to get any money, did not have any employment, did not have any items of value, and did not have more than $100 in her bank account.

According to documents, DHS investigators contacted several schools and daycare services and found that both Zimmers and Burns co-signed several of their children’s verification forms between 2012 and 2015, listing the same address for both parents and their children.

Multiple forms indicated that Burns and Zimmers were either engaged or married.

Investigators also discovered that Burns and Zimmers jointly purchased a 2011 Nissan Maxima for $33,000 in 2011 and had a $16,500 credit for a trade-in of a 2007 Nissan Altima.

After reviewing bank records, DHS officials found that Zimmers and Burns also shared a joint checking account from May 2008 to Nov. 2015. Court documents state that both were listed as self-employed on the account.

DHS investigators believe the couple was actively making deposits and withdrawals, adding up to $250,000 over the alleged time period.

Court officials said Zimmers was linked to a separate investigation involving two auto businesses accused of racketeering and other crimes.  

Zimmers, according to court documents, was allegedly selling cars to A1 Light Truck and Van Parts and West Coast Car Crushing, and was receiving cash payments after the companies would crush them and sell them for scrap metal.

Officials added that some of the cars Zimmers sold had been previously stolen.

According to documents, in Oct. 2014 Portland police observed Zimmers allegedly stealing a catalytic converter from a car parked on a flatbed truck.

Police said business record show Zimmers was paid thousands of dollars in cash for catalytic converters several times a month between Feb. 2012 and Feb 2016.

Police said Zimmers was also running an illegal towing and dismantling business in front of his home in Portland. according to court documents.  He pleaded no contest in 2013.

DHS investigators were able to determine that Burns did not qualify and any of the welfare benefits that she received.  Burns was given $192,551.47 in benefits.

Burns faces 47 counts including 21 counts of first degree theft, 16 counts of unlawfully obtaining public assistance, 6 counts of aggravated first-degree theft and 4 counts of unlawful use of a food stamp or food commodity.

Jail officials said Burns was given a pre-trial release. She is set to appear in court Friday. 

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