Mom Who Lied About Welfare Got More Jail Time Than a Murderer



Let’s get it all out in the open: Anita McLemore has a past. With four felony drug convictions and one misdemeanor, suffice it to say that, at least at some point, she wasn’t the best decision-maker. But let’s not judge because that’s the past and we all have one in some form.

But that past shouldn’t keep her from being able to eat or feed her two children, so she turned to the state to apply for food stamps. Because of her prior convictions, she knew she had to fudge her history to get assistance. That set off a domino effect that led to her being sentenced last week: three years in prison. For lying on her food stamp application.

That’s more time than James Arthur Ray got. You may know him as the self-help guru Oprah once endorsed who inadvertently killed three people at a sweat lodge a few years back. He got two years in prison. For killing three people. Oh, justice system. You never cease to baffle me.

McLemore will also serve more time than some folks involved in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, who also got sentenced to two years in federal prison.

The total amount McLemore used to put food on her table? $4,367. And she paid it all back after she admitted that she lied about not being convicted of a felony and plead guilty to one count of submitting a false claim to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in July.

Federal law bans food stamps for folks who have felony drug convictions so she, and other people like her, are out of luck when it comes to getting the government’s help to buy food for their families. Even though states can opt out of the law, the ones that don’t — including Mississippi, where McLemore lived — put their residents in a bind. So she had to make another decision, and is paying dearly for it.    

Guess we should think about that next time we see hungry folks on the streets or in shelters.

In an effort to wield the mighty sword of justice to make an example out of her, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, who presided over her sentencing, declared "the defendant's criminal record is simply abominable. She has been the beneficiary of government generosity in state court" and sent her to jail for more than the suggested sentence of 2-8 months in prison, which would have made her eligible for probation. On top of that, she has to pay another $250 in fines and be on supervised release for three years after she gets out.

McLemore starts serving her bid on January 3, leaving behind the very two teenagers she was trying to care for in the first place when all of this mess began. Unless they’re being taken in by relatives, that’s two more children in the foster care system that need not be there and six years out of their mama’s life that didn’t have to be monopolized by the courts.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between how the law works for a low-income single mom and a group of wealthy jetsetters. Taking some groceries to your kids and paying for them and taking somebody’s life and carrying on business as usual are deemed equal in the eyes of the law. She may have been wrong to tell the lie in the first place, but sometimes you have to push ethics to the backburner when desperate times hit. That’s why they’re called desperate times. You can’t feed your kids ethics when there’s no food in the fridge.

Was she right to lie in order to get the food stamps or was she just out of luck?

Image via banspy/Flickr

family, food, in the news, teens


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butte... butterflymkm

No it was wong to lie. However, 3 years is freaking ridiculous. She paid all the money back, give her some community service. Because ya know what? The state is going to spend a HELL of a lot more money housing her in prison than anything she took (which she did pay back.) also if her kids do have to go to foster care, that's even MORE money the state has to pay out. Economically speaking? They made a really dumb

choice. I say give her community service

in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter for

a lengthy amount of time. Desperate people do desperate things. What she dd was not in any way correct, but the way the Jude handled it was just silly and downright heartbreaking for her poor kids.

prplecat prplecat

Should have done community service in the food bank. :)

nonmember avatar bree

Welfare and food stamps should be eliminated. Let the tax exempt Churches do the charity. I am sick of working 60 hours a week and having to feed these kinds of people.

TC00 TC00

No I don't feel an ounce of sympathy for her. She had a few different choices. She could have moved to a state that allows felons to have food stamps or she could have found a job that paid her enough she didn't need food stamps.

Our actions have consequences. If she had been convicted once I would feel bad for her, we all make mistakes but 4? Nope sorry you lose my sympathy after 1, I do feel for her children though. They had no choice in the matter

nonmember avatar noneofyourbus

so, I actually like that law and think she got what she deserved. For 2 reasons, 1 she shouldn't have done drugs, and 2 she shouldn't have had kids she couldn't afford. Basically, our govt is enabling those who are too lazy to do for themselves. If we are going to have a welfare system at all, the most you should be able to use it is 1 month per year. This would keep people from being lazy and having that "I'm to good to work minimum wage so I'll just stay unemployed" attitude.

dreab... dreabug23

Tc00, people who have to rely on public assistance to feed their children more than likely don't have enough money to just move to another state. Also, the United States is experiencing it's most substantial economic downturn in 80a years. I promise you that nobody was knocking down this woman's door with job offers, especially since she is a convicted felon.

Yes, she made poor choices, but she paid for them and seemed to be trying to do the right thing by her children. Desperation will make one do nearly anything, including you.

nonmember avatar megan

Age old question, starve or steal? They used to cut off the hands of those who steal, so i quess she got lucky!

frogg... froggyt11

Don't you think her previous convictions played a role in her sentencing? with 4 felonies i'm sure she had already done jail time, they usually are a bit harder on jail time for repeat offenders.

missusmc missusmc

How did she have the money to pay back the 4 grand?  If she had that kind of money, why on earth was she lying for food stamps? I know plenty of families that don't even have that kind of money to spare and are living paycheck to paycheck... and feed their families without the use of government assistance.

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