DENVER — A Minden couple must pay back nearly $37,000 for defrauding the Colorado state government.

John and Shelley Biever were sentenced Monday in district court in Denver. Shelley pleaded guilty to theft, and John pleaded guilty to attempt to influence a public servant. Both are felonies.

The Bievers must undergo a two-year supervised deferred judgment, pay restitution, write letters of apology to Denver Human Services and to homeless shelters and complete 100 hours of useful public service. John also must pay the cost of extradition to Denver in the amount of $2,515.66.

Deferred judgment is a conditional guilty plea. If the Bievers follow the judge’s orders, their case is dismissed. They then are eligible to have their case expunged and sealed.

For restitution, both Bievers have a shared responsibility for the same debt. They also are individually responsible for the total restitution debt. Shelley’s restitution is $26,510.56 with $5,543.25 in accrued prejudgment interest as of Monday, totaling $32,053.81. John’s restitution is $3,542 with $1,377.21 in accrued prejudgment interest as of Monday, totaling $4,919.21. The total restitution for the Bievers is $36,973.02.

According to court documents, Shelley, 65, and her husband, John Biever, 60, both of Minden, fraudulently applied for food assistance and old age pension funds. The Denver District Attorney’s office issued a felony warrant on Dec. 31 for Shelley. She turned herself in Jan. 16 to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. She formerly was employed as the volunteer coordinator at Kearney County Health Services in Minden since May 2016, according to court records.

Shelley’s arrest affidavit outlines the crimes:

The Bievers continued to receive benefits from Denver County Department of Health and Human Services after moving from Colorado to Nebraska in March 2015. They falsely represented their relationship as brother-in-law and sister-in-law, not husband and wife.

Between April 2014 and August 2016, John also submitted applications for food assistance, requests for continuation of benefits and change forms to report updated information to the Denver County DHHS. He told the county DHHS that he and Shelley were brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Shelley also completed applications and renewals for assistance in October 2013, April 2016 and August 2016 through Colorado’s PEAK online application computer system. From January to September 2014, Shelley falsely stated that she was no longer employed and failed to report her earnings to the Denver County DHHS.

From March 2015 to December 2016, Shelley’s food stamps and old age pension funds EBT cards allegedly were used consistently in Nebraska. John also used food stamps EBT from March 2015 to September 2016 in Nebraska.

Between April 2014 and August 2016, John reported he was self-employed and started a new company. Nebraska Secretary of State documentation shows John started the company with Shelley in 1996. When a caseworker asked John in September 2015 how he was paying his bills, he said family was helping him out and provided letters that state he was loaned $800 a month. The contact number on the letter was Shelley’s cellphone number.

According to Kearney County, Neb., clerk and assessor records, John purchased two adjoining lots for $50,000 in February 2016 in Minden, listing his residence address on the tax documents as 1336 Sycamore St. in Minden.

EBT data obtained in the affidavit shows that between December 2014 and November 2016, Shelley would have qualified for $8 in food assistance but she received $2,753. Between December 2013 and November 2016, she would have qualified for $3,667.50 in OAP funds but received $23,757.56. Between June 2014 and January 2018, John would have qualified for $8 in food assistance but he received $3,550.

ashley.bebensee@kearneyhub.com

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