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Former Berlin child care center owner charged with fraud

August 2, 2018

The former owner of a Berlin child care center was charged Tuesday with welfare fraud.

Kristi Cook, 40, sold her business, then known as Kristi M. Cook’s Child Care Center, 701 North St., to Jennifer Lapp for $27,000 in 2017. Lapp, who renamed the center the Learning Leap Childcare Center, sent information to the Somerset County Assistance Office about Cook receiving income from the sale.

Cook did not report the sale of her business when she applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in 2017, according to Andrew Turner, a claims investigation agent for the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General.

“Further, the defendant certified that she was apprised of her reporting responsibilities and signed the affidavit that she would report all changes in the household including earned and unearned income,” Turner wrote in an affidavit. “The defendant also failed to report her unearned income on her July 2017 application and interview.”

She is accused of receiving benefits totaling $3,156 for which she was not eligible. She was charged with fraudulently obtaining food stamps or assistance, a third-degree felony.

Cook was arraigned Wednesday before District Judge Ken Johnson of Somerset and released on a $5,000 unsecured bond. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled at 11:25 a.m. Aug. 21 before Johnson.

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