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Former DCS family case manager pleads guilty to welfare fraud and official misconduct

Kiara Johnson reached plea Monday
Former DCS family case manager pleads guilty to welfare fraud and official misconduct
Posted at 10:21 AM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 14:43:45-05

HAMILTON COUNTY — A former Indiana Department of Child Services family case manager has pleaded guilty to welfare fraud and official misconduct, both felonies, amid accusations she falsified documents to obtain $4,471 in in government benefits.

Kiara Johnson reached a plea agreement with Hamilton County prosecutors Monday morning, in which she was sentenced to three years of probation.

WRTV Investigates learned of Johnson’s case by digging through reports from the Indiana Office of Inspector General.

The Indiana Office of Inspector General received a complaint on Nov. 11, 2019, from DCS alleging Kiara Johnson used forged documents to received housing assistance from the Noblesville Housing Authority.

Johnson used DCS letterhead to create at least two documents that claimed to be from the Indiana State Personnel Department HR director assigned to DCS, one of which claimed her last day of employment with DCS was May 24, 2019.

But Johnson did not leave DCS on May 24, 2019.

Instead, she stayed employed with DCS and was authorized to take federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) from May 24, 2019-July 1, 2019.

Johnson returned to DCS after completing her FMLA leave on July 2, 2019, and began receiving her regular salary, but did not notify the Noblesville Housing Authority of her employment status for several more weeks, records show.

Johnson received rental assistance payments from NHA of $2,644 to which she was not entitled to, according to court documents.

The Office of Inspector General also discovered Johnson used the same false document to receive SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration determined Johnson failed to report she was employed when she applied for SNAP in May 2019, and as a result received $1,827 in SNAP benefits to which she was not entitled to.

In an interview with the Office of Inspector General, Johnson admitted to creating the false document and sending it to NHA and admitted she returned to work on July 2, 2019.

Prosecutors initially charged Johnson in May 2021 with seven criminal counts including forgery, counterfeiting, welfare fraud and official misconduct.

As part of her plea and sentence reached Monday, Johnson must also complete 40 hours of community service and pay $4,471 to SNAP and the Noblesville Housing Authority.

Johnson’s attorney declined to comment.

DCS conducted an internal investigation and terminated Johnson, records show.

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