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Alden woman pleads guilty to welfare fraud

An Alden woman who collected more than $36,000 in welfare benefits for more than five years, at the same time she was receiving unemployment benefits even though she had a job and was stealing from her employer, pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree welfare fraud.

Crystal Adkinson, 43, of Bush Gardens, admitted in Erie County Court that she falsely claimed she had no income and that she collected $36,465 from the Erie County Department of Social Services from May 1, 2007 to Nov. 30, 2012, according to District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.

In fact, Sedita said, she had two sources of income: state jobless benefits and her job at Ryerson Steel, where she was stealing from her employer.

Adkinson had pleaded guilty in 2012 in Erie County Court to attempted offering a false instrument for filing for receiving state jobless benefits while working at Ryerson and attempted fourth-degree grand larceny for stealing from Ryerson. She was placed on three years’ probation in those two cases.

Besides those two convictions, she has a criminal record dating back to 1991 that includes five other theft offenses, prosecutors said.

In the welfare fraud case, Adkinson faces a maximum prison term of 28 months to seven years when she is sentenced July 8 by Judge Michael F. Pietruszka.