Sentencing delayed for further investigation
Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley reset a sentencing for a Greencastle man Monday after confusion arose over the exact nature of the man's alleged crimes.
Christopher J. Mullins, 24, was set to enter into a plea agreement in which he would plead guilty to theft and welfare fraud, both Class D felonies. In exchange for those pleas, charges of Class C felony forgery and Class D felony identity deception would have been dismissed.
According to court documents, Christopher J. Mullins, 24, fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits and used the money for his own personal gain. He was arrested in May.
Mullins allegedly applied for and was granted unemployment benefits in the name of a former roommate. Mullins was identified as the person who used the card through surveillance photos from a Greencastle bank, court documents said.
But in court Monday, Mullins told Headley he had never applied for any benefits in the name of nor had he signed the name of the former roommate at any time. Rather, Mullins said, the roommate had loaned him a debit card onto which the roommate's unemployment benefits were electronically loaded. The roommate loaned him the card to get money for rent, Mullins said.
"He gave it to me to use for rent," Mullins said. "I don't know what happened after that, but he says I stole it. I never signed nothing."
After hearing what Mullins had to say, Headley was hesitant about allowing Mullins to enter into the plea agreement.
"If that's what really happened, it wasn't a crime," Headley said. "I want to continue this so we can see what's going on here."
Mullins spent 42 days in jail after his arrest and was released to home detention on June 24. Headley ordered Mullins released from electronic monitoring and reset his sentencing for Jan. 5.
Mullins' former roommate met with an investigator at the Putnamville State Police Post, where he signed a sworn affidavit saying he had never applied for unemployment benefits and that he believed his identity was stolen and used by Mullins.
The Department of Workforce Development confirmed that benefits had been dispersed in the roommate's name, and that the amount taken via the debit card was $861.
The former roommate was not in court Monday. Mullins told Headley he was "on the run," as assertion confirmed by Putnam County Deputy Prosecutor James Hanner.
Mullins' criminal history include a conviction for harvesting illegal ginseng and several traffic violations. He is currently on probation in Clay County for battery.