Timothy Peaslee will miss at least the beginning of the worm-digging season while he does time in the Kennebec County jail after he fraudulently received $30,506 in food stamps.

Peaslee, 42, of Whitefield, was sentenced Thursday at a Kennebec County Superior Court hearing held in the Capital Judicial Center. Justice Michaela Murphy ordered him to serve an initial seven months in jail and suspended the remainder of a two-year sentence. He was also placed on probation for three years, and ordered to pay up to $16,000 remaining in restitution for food stamps he received November 2008 until September 2011.

Peaslee’s attorney, David Geller, said his client initially did not understand his wrongdoing. Geller asked for a fully suspended sentence or minimal jail time while the prosecutor sought a nine-month initial period of incarceration.

“I’m sorry, I’m really am sorry,” Peaslee told the judge. “I want to pay it back.”

Geller asked to delay the incarceration so Peaslee could make money during the blood worm season that began March 15.

“I’m just now starting back up,” Peaslee said.

Justice Michaela Murphy refused the request, indicating that part of her reasoning was that Peaslee was applying for Social Security disability payments, which would indicate he was unfit for gainful employment.

“The court is primarily concerned with getting the money back from the defendant,” Murphy said.

Peaslee pleaded guilty to theft by deception and aggravated forgery on Oct. 7, 2014, and the case was continued to allow him time to repay the $30,506 the state says he was overpaid in food stamps through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Geller said Peaslee and his wife were separated during those years and that Timothy Peaslee had their children living with him.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell, said Peaslee applied for benefits initially at the Department of Health & Human Services’ Rockland office. But that office got a tip that his application information was incorrect and began an investigation. Later, Peaslee sought benefits through the Augusta office.

“From the state’s perspective, the defendant has engaged in what the department calls ‘office shopping,’ ” Mitchell said.

Mitchell told the judge, “He lied about multiple issues including the residence of one of his minor daughters.”

Mitchell said that while Peaslee was working and living with his wife in 2010, the family had $47,000 in income, according to what the state fraud investigators determined after talking to worm buyers. Bloodworms are used as bait in saltwater fishing.

“He continued to misrepresent his household and household income,” Mitchell said. Geller said Timothy Peaslee’s wife Jody Peaslee’s income from worm digging accounted for about $40,000 of the income that year.

She said the total loss to the state was $30,506 and that the family has repaid half through Jody Peaslee’s repayments to the state.

However, Murphy on Thursday told Jody Peaslee that the remaining $16,000 debt is her husband’s responsibility, not hers.


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