0

Trial starts for woman accused of public assistance fraud

ALBANY — The trial of an Albany woman accused of covering up her marriage so that she could receive public housing assistance from the state started in earnest Wednesday with lawyers completing opening statements and the state calling its first witnesses.

Carol Ann Johnson has entered a not guilty plea; a move based on evidence her lawyer, Marcus Roberts, told jurors Wednesday will show that she being honest during the period alleged in the indictment.

Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards, who is trying the case for the state, told jurors in his opening statement that the case was a straightforward one stemming from lies that Johnson told in order to receive and keep the assistance she was receiving from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs' Housing Choice Voucher Program.

In his opening statement, Edwards told jurors that the evidence will show that at times between August 2007 and July 2008 the state issued more than $5,000 in housing assistance on Johnson's behalf based on a program application in which she checked boxes indicating that she was single despite the fact that she married Kevin Ashberry in March 2005.

Edwards told jurors that Johnson maintained that she was living alone with her children on a 2008 affidavit, despite the fact that Ashberry had registered Johnson's address as his address on Malone Drive on his driver's license and had changed his formal mailing address to her home.

In his opening statement, Roberts told jurors that he intends to show that the evidence will not support the allegation as set forth in the indictment while urging jurors to pay attention to the facts of the case.

"What (Ashberry) tells the department of driver services on his license is something that she has no control over whatsoever," Roberts said. "I don't expect Ms. Johnson could control where Mr. Ashberry got his mail delivered, here he had his car registered or whether he was employed."

Sharon Soogrin, an investigator with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General, testified about the details of her investigation into the matter Wednesday morning. Around 1 p.m., Edwards called Ashberry to the stand, where he invoked spousal privileged -- a legal doctrine that maintains conversations made between spouses is considered private and privileged from the court -- and was dismissed.

Comments

VietVet1 1 year, 9 months ago

Duh! You mean I an't suppose to get freebees? Don't want to make the shocking news, but SHE'S NOT THE ONLY ONE OUT THERE!

1

RedEric 1 year, 9 months ago

Oh, that is so true! I would just like to see this on a regular basis. If she is found guilty she owes income tax on that money too. Give her a plea if she names 10 others that lead to a conviction.

1

jglass 1 year, 9 months ago

You know if everyone receiving gov't assistance were investigated, I bet 50% or more would be guilty of fraud. And, that would surely help tremendously with this mess that the gov't. is in today. Of course, there is no telling what millions of dollars the staffs within our gov't waste, throw away, or are entitled to that we have no clue.

1

FryarTuk 1 year, 9 months ago

Swimming up stream but I'm cheering the prosecution on!

1

MRKIA 1 year, 9 months ago

WELL EITHER WAY SOMEONE LIED. JOHNSON LIED TO THE PROGRAM OR ASHBERRY LIED TO THE DMV AND DLS.

1

MRKIA 1 year, 9 months ago

GLORIA BAKER ET AL COMES TO MIND.

1

Cartman 1 year, 9 months ago

Was she married or not? There is no in-between.

1

chinaberry25 1 year, 9 months ago

Georgia should legalize common law marriage and it would put a stop to alot more of these. It really does not matter where he got his mail or other what nots they were married and lived together, so it is legal. Get your mail anywhere you want, but divorce lawyers will tell you one sexual act and it is all over. The divorce must start over, same in this case. Were any children born during this time, if not that is a miracle in itself if there were not any.

0

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Authorities know that there is 50% fraud in most Federal giveaway programs as well as double and triple dipping from program overlaps and duplications.

Once again.......refuse to testify (ie tell the truth) and you will probably walk away scott free and become a hero to "the Community".

What kind of car did the perps roll up in to the trial?

1

VSU 1 year, 9 months ago

Let me guess.....a BMW? LOL!

1

whattheheck 1 year, 9 months ago

Saxby's CofS says food stamp fraud has gone down every year since he has been in office thanks to his efforts. Do you buy this?

0

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Well I guess I really didn't see the well dressed couple charge $100 EBT against the finest foodstuffs that Winn Dixie has to offer and then drive off in a late model Lexus SUV then, did I?

1

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

I need to amend my remarks for clarity. It should have read "the well dressed couple of color.....". Apologies if anyone was offended.

0

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

What did they hear in Church? "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness" or "Thou Shalt Not Steal" ? or was it "Thou Shalt Do Whatever Thou Must To Get Whatever Thou Canst Before Someone Else Do"?

2

Somebody 1 year, 9 months ago

Here's a cure for welfare. Instead of giving them money for each baby they have. Give them X amount of dollars for their first baby, then subtract money from their welfare check for each baby they have thereafter.

1

DoctorDorite 1 year, 9 months ago

Do you think she'll be found guilty by a jury of her "peers". Think not !!

1

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

FOOD STAMP FACTS:

8.25% of Caucasians in the United States receive food stamps. 8.23% of Hispanics in the United States receive food stamps. 25.0% of Blacks in the United States receive food stamps.

Does anyone else besides me see a disparity here? And what is the root cause of that disparity?

Don't be confused by other "facts" designed to confuse and mask the real truth. You just saw it. Now......explain it.

1

sowegap 1 year, 9 months ago

Food stamps and public assistance is not the problem, but making rules and not following through on them is or it should be a crime. Seems to me about 15 or 20 years ago, government said that people would only receive x amount regardless of how many children they had and that they could only receive assistance for a certain amount of years.

Assistance is needed in these troubling times with unemployment rampant, but these programs should be used as intended as temporary help not a way of life. If my mother could work two jobs to take care of herself and her five daughters instead of waiting for a handout, then these young and able bodies should be able to do the same.I don't always agree with what is said here, because most of it does seem to very mean spirited and racist, but I have worked my entire adult life and feel that others should do the same instead of waiting on the mailman every month and for those of you who don't know, not all Blacks want to be taken care of and don't appreciate being lumped in a group for something we have no control over, such as the color of skin.

Moral fiber and ethics should be taught in the home and children should receive home training at home from their parents or guardians.

1

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Exactly!!! But you should not confuse commentary with facts. All too often they are one in the same!! You don't want to accept racial stereotypes....but they exist because that are all too often true!!

"Troubling times" have existed since 1964! And the problem of "poverty" has only gotten worse? HELLO???? HELLO????? HELLO??????????????????????????

1

RedEric 1 year, 9 months ago

I grew up the same way....poor. I started working for pay when I was 14. I have absolutely no sympathy for the "struggle". Give me a break!! Welfare is slavery. Voluntary Slavery. Why would anyone enter into that willingly!

0

Oldguy 1 year, 9 months ago

So here we are spending thousands of taxpayers dollars on a trial over $5,000.00 of fraud 4 and 5 years ago. Looks to me like a show the public we are on top of it move. Cases like this would be in the hundreds if not thousands in Dougherty County if some investigation was done on a regular basis. I know, the budget and under staffed but if the people there would just do a little investigating more would be found.

0

AuntieDee 1 year, 9 months ago

She must be caucasian. There is no picture and that is so not typical of the Herald , if she is black.

0

VSU 1 year, 9 months ago

If you are refering to the woman in this trial, she is black, they showed her on the news last night. So to your racist views, I've got 3 words for ya. YOU WERE WRONG! Ha Ha Ha

0

Sign in to comment