SUNBURY — A former Northumberland County caseworker pleaded guilty on Monday to fraudulently obtaining electronic benefit transfer (EBT) Access Cards in the names of eight public assistance recipients and making a combined $8,621.44 in purchases.
Jenifer Lee Curcie, 40, of Coal Township, was immediately sentenced by Northumberland County Hugh Jones to seven years of probation, $200 in total fines, plus court costs and fees, and she was ordered to repay the money she stole. Curcie, who worked for the county assistance office when she obtained and used the cards between July 2015 and July 2018, pleaded guilty to felony counts of theft by deception and false statements.
"I'm sorry," said Curcie when asked by Jones if she had anything to say.
Curcie was fired in August 2018. She was hired by the county in 2015.
Special Agent Ralph Ralston and investigator Victoria O’Neill charged Curcie. The prosecution was represented by Deputy Attorney General Philip McCarthy and Curcie was represented by attorney Joseph Orso, of Williamsport.
Curcie’s case was referred to the Office of Attorney General by the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General which participated in the investigation and arrest.
“This individual forged the identities of eight other people to activate the cards and share them with family members,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a news release on Monday. “This $8,600 was supposed to help families-in-need to buy healthy food. Instead, she used her position of public service to weaken the program and deny much-needed benefits to others.”
State police initially arrested Curcie in May 2018 on allegations she stole an EBT Access Card from a client while working for Northumberland County. The Office of the Inspector General found seven similar crimes, according to arrest papers.
All charges were dismissed against Curcie in September 2018 so the attorney general and inspector general offices could continue a joint investigation, arrest papers state.
The investigation’s conclusion alleges Curcie used client information to open Access Cards in their names unknowingly between 2015 and 2018, arrest papers state.
The investigators initially accused Curcie of receiving more than $11,000 in fraudulent benefits for herself and her family. The investigation found that in two cases, the recipients authorized her to use the cards, arrest papers state.