LOS ANGELES (AP) — She boxed a bartender in South Florida, did porn films, and even endorsed birth control for dogs after giving birth in 2009 to eight babies after she received in vitro fertility treatments, but “Octomom” Nadya Suleman never ran afoul of the law.
At least until now.
On Monday, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced Suleman has been charged with three counts of welfare fraud.
Authorities say the 38-year-old single mother of 14 children failed to report $30,000 she earned while collecting public assistance money.
Suleman, who was charged Jan. 6, was not immediately taken into custody but was ordered to appear in court on Friday. Prosecutors planned to ask that bail be set at $25,000.
If convicted, she could be sentenced to nearly six years in prison.
“While applying for public aid, the mother of 14 children allegedly failed to disclose that she was also getting checks for personal appearances and residuals from videos,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Authorities didn’t say what the personal appearances or videos involved, but it’s no secret Suleman has made at least one porn video, posed topless for various publications, danced in a Florida strip club and taken part in so-called celebrity boxing matches as she’s struggled to support her children.
One of her boxing opponents was Amy Fisher, the former “Long Island Lolita” who was 17 when she shot her much older lover’s wife in the face in 1992.
Suleman, whose real name is Natalie Denise Suleman, could not be located for comment Monday. There was no phone listing for the Orange County home where she has recently been living.
Lawyers, publicists and others who have worked with her over the years either did not respond to requests for comment or simply refused to talk about her.
All of Suleman’s children have been born by in vitro fertility treatments. She’s never named a father of any of the babies.
She’s also been careful about shielding them from media attention, but occasional video and print articles seem to indicate they are growing up healthy, even though the octuplets were born nine weeks premature.
Her older children range in age from 7 to 12.
After the octuplets were born on Jan. 26, 2009, it was discovered that her physician, Dr. Michael Kamrava, had implanted 12 embryos in her womb.
The medical community reacted with outrage, saying he grossly violated professional standards, and the state Medical Board revoked his license.
Initial offers to help quickly dried up as outrage spread about the births and knowledge that Suleman was unemployed and had been collecting welfare before the children were born.
In 2010 she defaulted on a house she had bought with a $115,000 down payment and it was sold at auction. She moved to a rental house in the Los Angeles suburb of Palmdale but left last year, soon after checking into a rehabilitation center.
At one point child welfare officials investigated allegations that she wasn’t properly caring for the children. No charges were ever brought.
Family law attorney Steve Mindel said Monday that unless Suleman goes to jail for a long time, it’s unlikely county officials would try to take her children now.
“If there was a dad or somebody trying to take custody, then that could be somewhat important to the court,” he said. “But even in that case, courts don’t like to punish children for the acts of their parents.”
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