An Androscoggin County woman has been indicted on charges of defrauding at least a dozen victims, most of them elderly, of more than $150,000 in all, according to state officials.

Tanya Boutelle was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on two counts of theft by deception, a count of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and a count of tampering with a victim, according to the clerk’s office at Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Boutelle also failed to report her income to the state and received more than $3,700 in welfare benefits to which she wasn’t entitled, Maine Department of Health and Human Services officials said.

DHHS, which plans to discuss the case and warn about the financial exploitation of elders at a news conference Thursday in Lewiston, said Boutelle took more than $150,000 from 12 victims.

She established relationships with the victims, DHHS said, and then created scenarios for needing to borrow money from them, but never paid it back.

Boutelle also stole items from some victims’ homes, DHHS said.

DHHS said the indictment came after its Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit began investigating Boutelle over the alleged welfare fraud and uncovered the alleged scam targeting elderly residents.

The alleged fraud may involve more than the 12 people discovered so far, DHHS said. Neither DHHS nor the Maine Attorney General’s Office returned calls for comment Wednesday on how the amount of money compared to other cases of fraud in which elderly residents have been targeted.

Fraud investigators worked on the case with a DHHS office that deals with aging and disability, department officials said.

The three theft counts cited in the indictment each involve $1,000 to $10,000, the court clerk’s office said. Officials couldn’t explain why the indictment cites up to $30,000 in alleged thefts, while DHHS officials say she stole more than $150,000.

Two of the counts are Class B crimes, punishable by up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to $20,000 each; and two are Class C crimes, punishable by up to five years in jail and fines of up to $5,000. She pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Friday and is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail, according to the Sun Journal in Lewiston.

A phone number in public records for Boutelle in Maine was not in service.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]