An Oklahoma couple has been charged with fraud after officials discovered that they were collecting welfare payments on their adopted son, who has been missing for more than 10 years.
Charges of Welfare Fraud
Doug and Valerie Herrman were arrested and charged with theft. They are accused of accepting $52,800 in welfare payments to which they were not entitled. Their adopted son, Adam Herrman, vanished in 1999, but the Herrmans never reported him missing.
Authorities did not even become aware of Adam's disappearance until 2008, when his adoptive sister notified authorities. Doug and Valerie Herrman maintain their son, 11 years old at the time, ran away after his mother hit him with a belt. They are considered "persons of interest" in his disappearance. Meanwhile, the Herrman's continued to accept government assistance for Adam's care for more than ten years after he was last seen.
The Herrmans falsely claimed Adam as a dependent on their tax returns, continued to collect adoption subsidies after his disappearance, and failed to notify authorities that the child was no longer living in their home.
Additionally, neighbors say that the Herrmans collected money from the state after a report determined that Adam had special needs. At this time, the Herrmans do not face fraud charges in Oklahoma. Doug and Valerie Herrman are charged in a neighboring state.
The Herrmans' attorneys claim that their clients deny any wrongdoing. The lawyers for Valerie Herrman say that both Herrmans intend to plead not guilty to the fraud charges and to "vigorously seek the dismissal" of fraud charges. In the meantime, police continue to investigate Adam Herrman's disappearance.
Prosecutors hope to have homicide charges filed by the end of the year. Authorities searched the mobile home park where the Hermanns were living when Adam was last seen, but no body has been discovered. Doug Herrman's criminal defense lawyer would not comment on the disappearance, saying he would focus only on the current charges.
What to Do When Facing Charges
If you or someone you know is facing charges of fraud in the state of Oklahoma it's important to seek legal representation as quickly as possible. While most fraud is committed knowingly, it is possible to have charges dismissed based on the circumstances of the case.