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Feds charge former Hennepin County employee, husband with defrauding public assistance programs

November 17, 2018

Federal prosecutors charged a former Hennepin County employee and her husband with stealing more than $248,000 in government funds by allegedly defrauding multiple public assistance programs from which he received benefits.

According to an indictment returned this week by a federal grand jury, Robert Anthony Coleman should have been disqualified from receiving certain public benefits after he started living with and eventually married Yolanda Yvette Coleman, aka Yolanda Pittman, who worked for the county’s Human Services and Public Health Department from 2002 to 2016.

The couple instead allegedly submitted false applications that did not disclose their relationship or cohabitation to government bodies responsible for benefits programs that included Section 8 rental housing assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, among others, from at least October 2010 to August 2018, according to charges.

Yolanda Coleman, 50, of Minneapolis, also allegedly acted as a personal care attendant for Robert Coleman, 45, of Minneapolis, for several years and withheld information about their relationship in his case file in violation of PCA regulations.

Both are charged in a 16-page indictment with conspiracy and one count each of theft of government funds. The charges outline numerous alleged fraudulent filings by the two that spanned nearly a decade. For example, after Yolanda Coleman bought a home in Brooklyn Park in 2016, the two submitted a shelter verification form to Hennepin County that listed the home’s address as Robert Coleman’s residence and stated that he was the only adult living in the home. They then allegedly forged the signature of the home’s previous owner and listed a false address and phone number for that past owner.

Robert Coleman has also been charged with two counts of making false statements and an additional count of Social Security benefits fraud. Yolanda Coleman was also charged with theft from a program receiving federal funds.

Applications for the benefits programs Robert Coleman participated in required information that included family composition. Benefits from programs like SNAP are calculated based on income, expenses and the number of people who live with the participant and eligibility for programs like Supplemental Security Income can turn on an applicant’s living arrangements.

According to the charges, Robert Coleman and Yolanda Coleman had a child together in 2008 and were married in 2014. They lived together throughout the dates of the alleged conspiracy and if they had disclosed Yolanda Coleman’s income and their living arrangements, Robert Coleman would have been disqualified from receiving benefits from four programs from which he received thousands of dollars, according to the indictment.

The two will make their first appearances in federal court at a later date yet to be scheduled, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Attorneys were not listed for either defendant and a phone number listed for Robert Coleman was disconnected.

Inspector general offices for both the federal Housing and Urban Development and Social Security Administration investigated the case along with the Hennepin County Fraud Unit.

Stephen Montemayor • 612-673-1755

Twitter: @smontemayor

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