The husband and wife are accused of claiming that they did not live together so she could continue to get benefits.

A Kennebunk husband and wife each pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland to federal charges stemming from their claim that they did not live together, allowing the wife to continue collecting state welfare, food stamps and federal Social Security benefits.

Carol Welch, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of Social Security fraud and one count of theft of federal funds. Her husband, Scott Welch, 45, pleaded guilty to making a false statement.

Both Carol and Scott Welch appeared before Judge George Singal and waived their right to have their cases presented to a grand jury. Both signed an appearance bond setting bail conditions and were allowed to go free while the cases are pending.

Carol Welch collected state benefits between December 2009 and May 2013 from both the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which are partially funded through the federal government. She also received federal benefits through the Social Security Administration from September 2010 to July 2013, according to court documents filed Thursday.

She admitted on July 10, 2013, to both a federal Social Security Administration investigator and a state Department of Health and Human Services investigator that she purposely failed to disclose that she lived with her husband because she knew it would make her ineligible for benefits, according to a prosecution document filed Thursday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Lipez.

Scott Welch submitted a letter on June 20, 2013, to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, saying that he had lived with his sister since 2003 when he actually lived with his wife, Lipez wrote in another court filing in the husband’s case.

“(Scott Welch’s) wife’s eligibility for benefits was based in part on a review of her household composition and the earned income of those in the household. The presence of (Scott Welch) in his wife’s household and the income he earned made his wife ineligible for benefits,” Lipez wrote.

The Welches are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 24. Carol Welch faces up to 10 years in federal prison on the theft charge and up to five years on the fraud charge. Scott Welch faces up to five years in prison. They each face fines of up to $250,000 on each of the charges against them.

Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @scottddolan

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