Nadya Suleman, better known as “Octomom,” pleaded no contest to welfare fraud in a Los Angeles court on Monday, according to a statement from the Los Angeles county district attorney’s office.
The 39-year-old mother of 14 who gave birth to octuplets in 2009 after fertility treatments was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and two years of probation for failing to report income while on public assistance.
Suleman was getting money for personal appearances and videos, but didn’t mention that when she applied for welfare in January 2013. She failed to report $30,000 earned between January and June of last year, an oversight her lawyer blamed on poor record-keeping, Reuters reported.
Officials started investigating after they received an anonymous tip, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Suleman has since paid $9,805 to the California Department of Health Care Services for Medi-Cal overpayments and $16,481 to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services for aid.
The California single mom became famous when she became one of only two women in the United States to successfully give birth to octuplets. “Perhaps most saliently, in terms of public opinion, she is the first to have emerged from childbirth ready for the world’s cameras with what looks to most people like plastic surgery — facial modifications, it would seem, designed to approximate the visage of that other notably avid producer and acquirer of children, Angelina Jolie,” the New York Times noted in 2009.
Her decision to undergo fertility treatment so she could have the babies even though she didn’t have a job or partner to help her support them drew public criticism. She was “cited as proof of everything that is wrong with American culture, single mothers, California and the welfare state. The controversy over whether she should be ‘punished’ reached such a pitch that as state legislators and bloggers worldwide clamored for public authorities to intervene, Suleman and her representatives received death threats,” the Times said.
According to the Times, she received more than $169,000 in disability payments between 2000 and 2008. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 claiming as much as $1 million in debt.
Her plans to write a book and release exercise videos never materialized. She has gotten creative at times, starring in a solo pornographic film called “Octomom: Home Alone” which features “erotic vignettes.” She also attempted a singing career after recording a duet with reality TV star and musician Adam Barta in 2012. In 2010, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals paid her $5,000 to put a sign in her yard promoting spaying and neutering of animals. “Don’t let your dog or cat become an ‘octomom,’ ” the sign said. “Always spay or neuter. PETA.”
Correction: The story has been updated to reflect that Sulemon pleaded no contest. It previously said she pleaded guilty. Someone who enters a no contest plea does not admit guilt but does not dispute the charges. It has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea in a misdemeanor case, but it means the plea cannot be used against the person as an admission of guilt in a later civil case.