Fla. woman accused of stealing more than $68K in public assistance

Identity Theft
Posted at 11:28 AM, Mar 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-08 06:50:59-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --  A Pensacola woman is accused of stealing thousands of dollars in public assistance from her sister.

Rose Gremlin, 55, is charged with two counts of public assistance fraud and one count of identity theft. Gremlin reportedly used her sister's information to cash in on $86,601.85 worth of Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds from her sister, who lives in Wisconsin.

“This case highlights two ever-growing problems in our state – identity theft and public assistance fraud,” CFO Atwater said. “Identity theft can happen to anyone and often times the predator can be someone you know. By continuing to raise awareness about ID theft and public assistance fraud, we can help protect Floridians from financial ruin. I am proud of our investigators who work to keep dollars from those who cheat the system and help protect those who need it most.”

According to an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Public Assistance Fraud and Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Gamlin stole the identity of her sister, 53-year-old Mary Bawyn Boutwell, in 1996 while Bawyn lived in Wisconsin. Bawyn tried to apply for public assistance in Wisconsin and was informed that someone using her name and Social Security number was already receiving public assistance benefits in Florida.

Officials say Gamlin used Boutwell's birth certificate to get a Social Security card. For the past 17 years, officials say Gamlin  received public assistance benefits as Boutwell; she also received her sister’s income tax refunds.

Gamlin previously was charged with fraud in 1996 and sentenced to four years in prison, according to Florida officials. They allege that Gamlin also faked her own suicide in 1997.

Anyone with information about these or any other incidents of suspected public assistance fraud is asked to call 1-866-762-2237. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous.