Fraud cases settled via plea agreements

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Teresa Blood

HANCOCK COUNTY — Two of three people charged with welfare fraud and theft of over $134,000 from the state’s Family and Social Security Administration (FSSA) office had their case settled via a plea agreement, court documents show.

Katharine Blood, 65, Michigan City, had her case closed May 18 in Hancock County Circuit Court. She was given a three-year term to be served at the Indiana Department of Corrections with credit for 126 days in jail while the other 969 days were suspended to probation which can be served in her home county, the agreement states. The plea agreement noted she is to also pay back $50,000 after pleading guilty to a lesser Class D felony.

Blood was facing a Class C Felony Welfare Fraud charge, which carried up to eight years in prison, from fraud crimes that started in 2014 involving her son, Brandon Blood, 39 and his wife Teresa Blood, 43.

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 that 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.

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, who was facing three Level 6 felony charges, also had her case settled via a plea agreement in Hancock County Superior Court 2 this week (Monday). Court records show she was given a 730 day term with 726 days suspended for each of two felony charges which are to run concurrent and is to pay restitution in the amount of $29,776. The third felony charge of theft was dismissed as part of the deal. Brandon Blood, who is facing a Class C Felony, is slated for a pretrial conference in Circuit Court Thursday, May 25.