Three charged in welfare scheme costing state over $134,000

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Brandon Blood

HANCOCK COUNTY — Two county people and one former county resident have been charged with welfare fraud and theft from the state’s Family and Social Security Administration (FSSA) office, according to a lengthy affidavit. The three people have been accused of accepting some $134,000 in pay over a nine-year period while the recipient worked and made more money than he was supposed to.

Brandon Blood, 39 and his wife Teresa Blood, 43, Greenfield, along with Brandon Blood’s mother, Katharine Blood, 65, Michigan City, are all facing felony charges surrounding the crime, which officials say started in 2014.

Brandon Blood and his mother Katharine Blood have been charged with a C Felony crime, due to when the crime started in 2014. The charge carries anywhere from two to eight years in prison. Their cases are being heard in Hancock County Circuit Court. Brandon Blood’s case was officially opened this week following his arrest while the case against his mother was opened in mid-February.

Teresa Blood has been charged with three different Level 6 felony charges of welfare fraud, theft and perjury for crimes committed March 2016. Her case is being handled in Hancock County Superior Court 2 and was officially opened in late January.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Katharine Blood received $99,705.30 in disability benefits to which Brandon Blood was not entitled. An investigation also revealed from February 2021 to July 2022, as Brandon Blood’s representative payee (RP), Teresa Blood, received $34,351.30 to which Brandon Blood was not entitled. Both over-payments resulted in a fraud loss of $134,056.60.

In February of 2021 officials received an anonymous complaint stating Brandon Blood, a Title II disability beneficiary, had concealed employment for approximately nine years while collecting Title II benefits and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the affidavit said.

Officials noted in the report Brandon Blood was receiving state benefits while currently working full time as a tattoo artist for Stage Left Tattoo and Piercing, 209 S. Harrison St., Shelbyville. Brandon Blood had previously been employed at Irish Ink Tattoo & Piercing, 235 W. Main St., Greenfield where officials reported Brandon Blood worked “under the table” approximately 40 hours per week.

Teresa Blood became Brandon Blood’s official RP for his disability benefits while prior to that Brandon Blood’s mother, Katharine Blood, had been his RP, the affidavit states. Brandon Blood had been receiving Title II Disability Insurance benefits since October 2006, officials noted in the report.

The affidavit states monthly benefits cannot exceed a family maximum amount. On the RP applications completed by Katharine Blood and Teresa Blood, it states if a claimant is receiving disability benefits, the Social Security office must be notified promptly if the claimant starts working.

Officials checked Blood’s records from 2014 to 2020 with his employer and found Brandon Blood worked with Irish Ink Tattoo & Piercing, Greenfield, during that time and in 2014 made $44,802; 2015 – $44,709; 2016 – $41,366; 2017 – $52,754; 2018 – $39,451; 2019 – $35,771; and in 2020 made $20,782. Brandon Blood’s monthly income limits, due to his disability payments, were limited from $1,070 to $1,310 maximum per month during the same time period, the affidavit said.

In June of 2021 officials contacted Brandon Blood’s employer Stage Left Tattoo & Piercing and was informed Brandon Blood typically worked every day from noon to 8 p.m. Officials sent an undercover person to meet with Brandon Blood under the pretense he wanted a tattoo, the affidavit said. The official recorded Brandon Blood admitting he had been a tattoo artist for 17 years, including 13 years working in Greenfield. During the meeting officials noted Brandon Blood only accepts cash as payment for tattoos, the affidavit said.

Officials noted in the report Brandon Blood’s wife and his mother knew he had been working. Katharine Blood received his benefits via direct deposit and would give him money to pay his rent or other bills. Katharine Blood, officials noted, is residing in an assisted living facility in Michigan City and has lived there for approximately one year. Prior to that, she lived in Greenfield. She told officials her son had started receiving benefits when he was eight and she was his RP until about two years ago when his wife took over.

Katharine Blood told officials she knew her son had been working at Irish Ink in Greenfield as a tattoo artist from 2014 to 2020. She admitted, the affidavit said, she was supposed to report his work to state officials but was afraid he would lose his benefits and not have enough income.

Teresa Blood, officials noted in the report, is not currently employed and last worked as a cashier in January 2022. She told officials Brandon Blood’s benefits were terminated in July 2021. Teresa Blood first told officials as Brandon Blood’s RP, she failed to report Brandon’s income because she did not realize he was working while on benefits. She recanted, admitting she did know he had been working while on benefits, the report stated.

Teresa Blood, the report said, knew it was wrong and should have reported his employment income but she knew the benefits would be terminated and she, Brandon and three kids had become dependent on the benefits and was afraid to lose them. Brandon Blood also admitted he was aware of the reporting requirements but was afraid he would lose his benefits if he reported his income, the affidavit stated.

Brandon Blood is scheduled to be back in court for a pretrial hearing Thursday, May 11 while Teresa Blood is due back in court Thursday, March 23 for a pretrial conference. Katharine Blood has yet to be arrested, but a warrant is pending, proseuctor Brent Eaton said.