DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A woman is accused of fraudulently obtaining welfare benefits from Minnesota while living in Wisconsin.

Prosecutors in St. Louis County say 33-year-old Tessa Cherese Weatherspoon received more than $17,000 in welfare benefits from the Minnesota Family Investment Program while living in Superior, Wis.

A criminal complaint says Weatherspoon signed a lease for an apartment in Superior in November 2009. It says she signed a form to re-certify her welfare benefits in January 2010 and listed her residence as the Safe Haven Shelter in Duluth.

The Duluth News Tribune says Weatherspoon told an investigator she didn’t want to go through the hassle of applying for benefits in Wisconsin.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (23)
  1. M. says:

    Why stop with her? Keep investigating guys, you’ll find more!

    1. Mad Max says:

      Sounds good to me. Maybe both sides of the river need to look into this.

    2. JamieinMN says:


  2. Don says:

    I know a lot of people are going to comment otherwise, but this is an isolated incident and most people are middle class hard working americans that happen to get some money from the govt.

    1. JamieinMN says:

      And that’s OK. It’s the fraudulent people we need to bust!

    2. Do TWiG says:

      Welfare, while needed only by a few, weakens the rest and the nation.

    3. taxpayerin mn says:

      Don if you honestly believe that I have some swamp land in Nevada I would like to sell you. I have worked in the housing program in my county, the majority of the people on the program are not hard working americans, and most are not families. It is usually a single mother and her kids with maybe the mother’s boyfriend, but most of the time they don’t add them to the paperwork, they just sneak them in once they have been approved for assistance. The woman said it herself she didn’t want to go through having to reapply in Wisconsin, talk about lazy. If she didn’t want to have to reapply for benefits, find a place in Minnesota. There is a reason this woman is on welfare it’s called laziness

    4. Michelle says:

      That could be but we have a lot of people from other states moving here because the benefits are so generous.

  3. Ron says:

    Tommy Thompson placed a limit on the number of years you can collect Welfare in WI. Go figure, they just hop across the river to the bleeding heart state. I am sure she didnt think she was doing anything wrong, just another poor victim of the system. Tax the rich and make business pay taxes, that will fix everything, yeah right!

    1. betcha says:

      Well Ron – if the fricken rich paid the same percentage I do on my pizzy $81K a year we’d actually have parts fixed. And if they tax the welfare recipients on the same percenages it’d help too. Small amount we’d get but hell … it’s all good.

      And if the GE’s and other massive corporations got zero in tax incentives and fricken actually paid taxes just imagine – we indeed might have NO MONEY ISSUES at all.

      Just imagine that Ron …. can you get your little brain cells working and calculate the billions and billions and billions that those at the top been swiping off the middle income for generations Ron???? can you see that far ??????

      1. Ron says:

        I beleive that everyone in Mn filing as a single with income over $75,000 pays 7.85% in MN income tax. How do you figure the rich pay a lower percentage than you?
        Your arguement of GE not paying taxes is pretty lame. If they were doing something illegal in regards to filing taxes they would not get away with it. if our Democrat President thought it was so bad he should have spent some time changing the tax laws while they ruled the House and Senate instead of wasting time on Heath Care Bill that will never get funded.
        In regards to brain cells, I will take the high road. i enjoy your commentary.

        1. William K says:

          Somewhat shooting holes in your arguement or case per se with the GE and welfare comments I think.
          First off – for 99% of those on welfare it is legal also. Need to say no more on this.
          For GE it is indeed also legal. That stated – I believe they “sucked” in more than $3.5 BILLION in credits if I recall the number correctly. I suspect that alone may offset most of what is lost or handed out to those in need of the welfare system. Do you beg to disagree there?
          On what one pays as percentage of taxes – I myself make slightly above your referenced . Are we talking gross income or AGI? I know of many folks who make 5x what I do and pay in less MN income tax than I do as their bottom line.
          They are able to better reap rewards off the tax codes than myself, manage to shelter far more income and reap more on the tax free/exempt side. It not that complicated – the more the merrier to a point.
          This said – I think we all pay alot in taxes but in the bigger picture, if looking at the rest of the world anyway, we pay little for all we have around us. A big and beautiful country surrounds us all – guess it’s time to decide whether that’s what we still want and pay for the past that we have enjoyed or let it all go to hell and become a second or third world country in the generations to come.
          Are we selfish or not is the honest question we need to ask of our selves. I think the answer is yet to be known by anyone

          1. Max says:

            The negativity surrounding the safety net disappears the moment one realizes why it is there. Fraud like this case will always be there because there are always going to be people who want something for nothing. Welfare should be like unemployment where you need to show how you are trying to get off it.
            Tax sheltering exists because of two reasons. The first is that if taxes were simple there would not be the need for tax attorneys, The other is the notion of monetary incentives to do things. It is unlimited and runs amok. It is the result of influence the small guy doesn’t have. nice post William. No name calling which lately runs rampant.

            1. Jeff in Hopkins says:

              Bingo to Max and William.

              I’d love to see a flat tax with few, if any offsets, myself. Applied to all across the board. A seperate flat tax rate applied to business entities, with some offsets maybe to help start up companies. That likely opens up the black box though as suddenly a large corp will have 100,000,000 new start-ups for tax avoidance purposes too so I am skeptical about “how” it could be done.

              I just finished my Fed and Sate, mailed in my checks and wept. Okay – maybe that’s a stretch. lol
              I ‘d like to pay less like everyone else I imagine. Then, as William said above – I look out my window at trees, clear looking air, no trash or litter to be seen, paved streets (dang pothole but …), my wife has laundry in and the dryer is running so my utlities are in great shape it appears, and its pretty hard not to feel good about what we have here in the USA. Perfect – heck no.
              It indeed is a Wonderful Country and the Land of Opportunity and beauty.
              Suddenly those checks, while they were large, are in fact a very small price to pay for what we have.

          2. Ron says:

            @William K.
            Thanks for the educated response. I guess my 2 points on GE are: 1) If they can legally make the deductions there is no need for us to complain about them directly and throw them under the bus. Talk to your representatives to make a change. 2) Are we better off with or without GE in the USA? We collect plenty of income taxes from all the employees, sell lots of homes and cars to the employees and collect plenty of sales tax from puchases by both company and employees. MN should be happy for every business that stays in this state and not opting to move to many of the states that have no state income tax.

            Of course we are talking about AGI as that is what MN taxes us based on. Again legal or non-legal tax deductions? In my business I deal with tax returns everyday and the majority of returns I see with $100,000 plus income levels are small business owners that have every right to make the deductions that are legal under the current tax code. Knowing that you make $81k per year means you are probably on a salary and do not risk any of your income due to the success or loss of company profits. The self-employed cant tell you what they make until the end of the year. They risk their livelihoods everyday and simply ask the gov’t to live within its means, tighten their belts and stop wasting our money.
            Have a great day from the guy without any brains cells!

          3. Ron says:

            Sorry William K. That was Betcha that makes $81k per year. I realized my mistake

  4. Sarah says:

    Didn’t want to go through the hassle of applying for benefits? Laziness and free handouts encourage this kind of behavior. And to think that my hard earned money supports people like Tessa!

    1. Quentin says:

      To get money for nothing is prevalent. As long as the government keeps catching the cheats things will work out. Keep reading the news as there a an awful lot of people going to jail for cheating other people out of money. Sadly it is hard to get the money back.

  5. Carol says:

    You want to see welfare fraud come check out the Twin Cities!

    1. BBrooks says:

      Better yet – look out here in Eden Prairie and Minnetonka.
      And surprise – it’s not necessarily the minorities involved as so many want to believe and expect even.
      Nooooope. The white modern day suburban gal is alive and well and maybe a bit smarter at getting away with it too. Or they don’t bother them ?

  6. tom says:

    time to cut off the welfare, tell them to go get a job. that will solve the state budget problem.

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