He ran a small housecleaning service, owned two cars, collected disability payments from the federal government and lived in a Silver Spring house valued at about $58,000. Still, Charles W. Coles was collecting food stamps, medical assistance and general support payments from the state of Maryland, according to Montgomery County prosecutors.
Yesterday in a courty courtroom, a Circuit Court judge ordered Coles to repay the state for more than $30,000 in benefits he had received, according to Deputy State's Attorney Timothy Clarke.
Judge Joseph M. Mathias ordered the restitution and sentenced Coles to 10 years in jail for his conviction on welfare fraud. But Mathias suspended all but six months of the sentence, as long as Coles keeps up restitution payments.
Mathias order the 47-year-old Coles to pay $200 a month for the next 12 months and then pay the balance he owes to the Department of Social Services.
Coles had been collecting various payments from the state for about two years. Meanwhile he and his son were working for a builder cleaning and preparing new houses for sale.
Coles' own home was assessed at about $58,000, but Mathias said in court that the four-bedroom, brick-and-frame home in a Silver Spring subdivision appeared be worth about $80,000.
Coles owns a Pinto and a Ford station wagon, and his wife was driving a 1974 Cadillac.
The suspicions of a Department of Social Services employe and an investigation by the Maryland State Police fraud untied to the charges of welfare fraud, Clarke said.