Centralia Woman Pleads Guilty to Theft of Benefits

By The Chronicle

A woman charged earlier this year in Lewis County with fraudulently claiming more than $7,000 in state assistance pleaded guilty last week. 

Jennifer Marie West, 36, pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree theft. She was sentenced to four months in jail with credit for 63 days already served.

West was first charged with the crime in February. According to court documents, an investigator with the state Department of Social and Health Services’ Office of Fraud and Accountability finished an investigation into West the previous September.

West allegedly claimed her daughter was living with her, when in fact she was living in Florida.

West also allegedly filed documents saying she was pregnant when she was not. She was accused of receiving a total of $7,161 in cash and food assistance from DSHS between January 2015 and October 2016.

West made her first appearance in the case following her arrest on a $25,000 arrest warrant issued after the charge was filed in February.

She was transported to Lewis County from Florida after writing a letter to Lewis County Superior Court advising that she was serving time in a Florida jail for a theft charge. She asked that her Lewis County charge be dropped.

Instead, she was extradited and made her first appearance June 30. She has been in custody in the Lewis County Jail since then.