Trial starts for Lake Station woman accused of benefits fraud
By Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com December 10, 2012 5:48PM
Updated: January 12, 2013 6:20AM
The federal trial of a Lake Station woman accused of lying to receive numerous federal and state benefits started Monday with evidence laying out just what benefits and warnings she received.
U.S. District Judge James Moody ruled against other government evidence, however, saying federal attorneys had limited the scope of the indictment.
Loughran, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service delivering mail, is accused of lying in workman’s compensation claims about numerous doctor visits she had because of an injury she sustained at work.
The federal government paid her for mileage and child care for those visits, which the government now claims she never took. They also say she never reported income she made from selling hundreds of adult toys online through an eBay store called Chopper’s Treasures.
On top of that, she also faces wire fraud charges in connection to lies she allegedly made in order to get more than $5,000 in food stamps from the state.
Several employees from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration testified Monday about documents Loughran signed in 2008, including one alerting her to possible perjury if she didn’t provide information about additional income she received, such as from workman’s compensation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Toi Denise Houston argued to also introduce evidence that Loughran had applied to join the Lake Station Police Department, which included a running and jumping test, just a month after she told the U.S. Postal Service that she couldn’t stand, sit or drive for work.
The government also wanted to use evidence that Loughran used her debit card for food assistance at local retail stores.
Defense attorney Scott King argued that the government never charged Loughran with lying about her injury to receive benefits or with using the debit card for fraudulent purposes. “It’s a completely different theory of prosecution,” King said.
Moody sided with the defense, saying the evidence would prejudice the jury. “(The indictment) is just very poorly drafted,” Moody said.
The trial is expected to last about a week.