Parolee Faces New Fraud Charges
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ A woman dubbed the ″welfare queen″ because she lived in a mansion and drove a Rolls-Royce before being convicted of fraud in 1983 is back in jail on new fraud charges.
Dorothy Woods, 45, paroled last year in what was believed to be the largest individual welfare swindle in U.S. history, is accused of trying to bilk the system out of $697. She denies the charge.
Ms. Woods was convicted four years ago of cheating the county out of $377,000 in welfare payments from 1974 to 1980 by posing as a dozen impoverished women with a total of 49 dependent children.
The welfare payments, which at one point reached $5,000 a month, paid for a real estate empire of 100 rental properties, a mansion with a live-in housekeeper, fur coats, a swimming pool and six cars, including a Rolls-Royce, a Lincoln Continental, a Cadillac and a Mercedes-Benz.
Ms. Woods is now accused of collecting several weeks of aid for a teen-age son who did not live with her and of forging a phony rent receipt to get reimbursment for some $300 in rent, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services and the district attorney’s office.
She has been jailed without bail pending a hearing June 5. She contends she committed an error but not a crime by failing to notify welfare officials when she moved out of a grown son’s home, leaving a 14-year-old son behind for a time while continuing to collect welfare checks for him.
Paralegal Kwaku Duren of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which represents Ms. Woods, said the separate living arrangements were only temporary and that Ms. Woods continued to provide food, lunch money and transportation for her son.
Ms. Woods said she has become a born-again Christian and changed her life completely since her conviction.
″I know what I did was wrong,″ she said in a jail interview. ″I was used to a lavish lifestyle, and after my first husband left me I didn’t want to change. It was a need that turned to a greed.
″But I don’t want those things anymore. I have a real need now, and I wouldn’t be here (in jail) now if it hadn’t been for my past.″
But Bryce Yokomizo, head of the social services department’s welfare fraud division, said that ″is not the story we’re hearing.″
″Remember, this is a woman who bilked the system out of a lot of money,″ Yokomizo said. ″It will all come out in court.″