California’s ‘Octomom’ charged with welfare fraud

LOS ANGELES- Nadya Suleman, the California single mother of 14 children including octuplets who has been popularly dubbed "Octomom," has been charged with welfare fraud over accusations she lied about her income to authorities, prosecutors said on Monday.

The 38-year-old mother who became a media sensation five years ago after giving birth to octuplets conceived through in vitro fertilization, is accused of failing to report nearly US$30,000 in earnings from personal appearances and residuals from videos, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office said.

Suleman, whose legal name is Natalie Denise Suleman, was charged on Jan. 6 with a single count of aid by misrepresentation and two counts of perjury by false application for aid.

The district attorney's office said that Suleman had failed to report extra income between Jan. 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013. She had filed for public assistance in Lancaster, California, in January 2013.

Suleman will be arraigned in Los Angeles on Friday and faces up to five years and eight months in prison if convicted. Prosecutors will ask a judge to set her bail at US$25,000.

In 2009, Suleman received an initial outpouring of public support as a single mother of octuplets but was later derided in the media when it was revealed that she had undergone fertility treatments when she already had six children.

Her children became only the second set of octuplets known to have survived birth in the United States.

Since their birth, Suleman has struggled to make ends meet, attempting a singing career and releasing a pornographic video. In 2012, she entered rehab to treat anxiety and filed for bankruptcy.