Man receives prison time for welfare fraud

FRONT ROYAL – A Fort Valley man faces prison time for committing welfare fraud.

John D. Creekmore Jr. appeared in Warren County Circuit Court on Tuesday with his attorney David N. Crump Jr. Creekmore stood charged with two counts of making false statements on an application for public assistance and one count of obtaining such aid through fraud. The judge sentenced Creekmore to serve one year and four months of a three-year prison term.

An agreement reached between Crump and Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden called for Creekmore to plead guilty to the one count of feloniously obtaining public assistance benefits by means of a willful false statement in violation of state code. In exchange for his plea, the court granted the commonwealth’s motion to dismiss Creekmore’s remaining charges of making false statements on welfare applications.

The agreement calls for the commonwealth to recommend the court impose a sentence of three years in a penitentiary with one year and eight months suspended, leaving Creekmore with one year and four months to serve. Creekmore must serve two years of supervised probation upon his release from prison. The judge ordered Creekmore to begin serving the sentence July 2.

Madden said Thursday that Creekmore went to the Warren County Department of Social Services office on Oct. 6, 2016, and applied for benefits. Creekmore answered “no” to the application question whether or not he had any felony convictions for drug-related offenses. Creekmore, in fact, had prior felony drug convictions including two in Warren County Circuit Court in 2010, Madden noted. The policy of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, renders convicted drug dealers ineligible for aid, Madden added.

Creekmore received benefits on a monthly basis until September 2017. He collected $2,295, Madden said. The defendant repaid restitution to the Department of Social Services in full by his hearing Tuesday, prompting the plea agreement, Madden added.

The agreement also called for Creekmore to stipulate that he violated the terms of probation imposed for a conviction in March 2010 of distribution of methadone and that the court would revoke the entire suspended sentence. For good cause shown, the court would suspend the sentence in its entirety again.

Indictments against Creekmore charged him with making false applications for public assistance on Oct. 6, 2016, and Dec. 21, 2017, and with obtaining assistance by fraud between Oct. 6, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017.

A grand jury indicted Creekmore and other defendants in February on unrelated charges of welfare fraud. Grand juries have indicted other individuals on welfare fraud charges in March and April.