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Ex-DHR employee stole $120,000 in welfare funds

HUNTSVILLE (AP) — A former state Department of Human Resources employee in Huntsville has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for stealing more than $120,000 in welfare benefits and misusing her public position.

Yvette Wilson of Huntsville pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony ethics violation and to first degree theft and was given two 20-year prison sentences to be served at the same time, Attorney General Troy King said. She was also ordered to repay the state the money that was stolen.

Wilson pleaded guilty to charges that she created two false welfare recipient accounts and used those to funnel state and federal welfare funds to electronic benefit transfer cards. Wilson was charged with taking those cards to local automatic teller machines and making more than 200 withdrawals over a two-year period. The withdrawals totaled more than $120,000.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16 in Madison County Circuit Court for the judge to consider Wilson's request to have a portion of her sentence suspended.

"The strong sentence imposed in this case is a message that if you break the ethics law and raid the public treasury in Alabama, my office will prosecute you and you will pay a high price for your crimes," King said of the sentence given Wilson.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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