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Felon admits to bilking DSHS of $96,000

A man admitted today to defrauding the state Department of Health and Social Services of nearly $100,000. 

Robert J. Childress, 34, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and one count of second-degree theft. 

Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno approved a plea deal that dropped a dozen other charges and sentenced Childress (pictured in May 2009) to the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative.

That means Childress, a previously convicted felon, will serve two years in prison and two years under state supervision.

The case began when cameras caught him stealing an iPhone from the Airway Heights Wal-Mart on Jan. 23, 2009, then cashing a check in another area of the store. Detectives searched his Airway Heights home and found stacks of blank checks, driver’s licenses, credit cards, stolen mail and two felons wanted by Crime Stoppers.

Childress told the newspaper he woke up “and those things were in my house with a bunch of people I didn’t know.”

At one point, his attorney filed a motion seeking an insanity defense, but withdrew it after Childress started taking his medications. Childress said in court today that he began taking OxyContin during treatment for a 2007 crash that put him in a wheelchair “and that’s how all this happened.”

The fraud conviction stemmed from Childress receiving $96,000 worth of benefits from DHSH while he was also receiving funds from worker’s compensation from the state, Deputy Prosecutor Tom Treppiedi said in court.