ELKHART — An Elkhart woman is accused of wrongfully claiming more than $23,000 in public assistance since 2016.

Ashley Norman, 32, is charged with welfare fraud as a Level 6 felony following an investigation by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. She allegedly collected Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits and Medicaid based on falsely reporting where she lived and whether she lived with her husband.

The charge against her was filed in Elkhart County Superior Court 2 on Thursday.

According to court documents:

The investigator with the IFSSA Compliance Division began reviewing Norman’s case in August 2018. He determined that she had collected $23,649 since April 2016 based on false information.

Norman first applied for assistance for herself and three dependent children in May 2015. Her eligibility was approved based on falsely reporting her address as being on Leonard Avenue and failing to report her husband as a member of her assistance group, according to the investigator.

She reapplied and was approved multiple times over the years. Each time she gave false information, both verbally and in writing, about her husband’s presence in the home and her actual household income, expenses and resources, according to the examiner.

As part of his investigation, he looked at Facebook posts, employer records, lease agreements, water bills and BMV records. They all indicated that Norman and her husband were together and were living at a Fremont Street residence, though she claimed that they were separated and she lived at a Leonard Avenue address. 

He drove past both residences multiple times during the investigation. Vehicles registered to Norman were seen parked at the Fremont Street residence both during the day and at night, but never at the Leonard Avenue address.

The investigator questioned Norman in January. She said she and her husband were in an “on-again, off-again” relationship, that she only stayed with him half the time and that they were together but led separate lives.

Norman allegedly said she keeps herself on SNAP “because that is the only way I am able to be secure in the outcome for me and my kids because I never know the day that he’s going to pick up and leave.”

She also claimed that her husband didn’t know she was getting food stamps and that she uses them to keep the food pantry full at her parents’ home.

The investigator questioned Norman’s parents next. They indicated the children spend more time there than Norman does, and that she used to supply food to help feed her children but stopped.

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