A former law enforcement officer and veteran is several charges after investigators say he cheated the welfare system.
68–year–old Terry Chelius was a Colorado State Trooper, Wheatridge Police Officer, Larimer County Deputy and worked in law enforcement for 20 years. He served in the Coast Guard, Navy, Marines and even faced Viet Kong, but he says now there's a harder fight--facing himself.
"Even if you try to minimize the blame, in your heart you know you did something wrong. I'm ready to fess up," Chelius told 11 News on Wednesday.
Chelius is out on a $7,500 bond. He turned himself into the Mesa County jail on Friday. An investigation by the Department of Human Services Welfare Fraud and Recovery Division has raised several charges related to theft and fraud.
"I'm truly embarrassed," said Chelius.
According to an arrest affidavit, Chelius got food stamps totaling $8,000, $3,500 in medicare benefits and $2,400 from the Low-income Energy Assistance Program.
Meanwhile, court documents say his ranch was pulling in $49,000 and he was collecting anywhere from $800 to more $2,000 in Veteran's benefits. They say he owned atleast four cars, a utility trailer and three ATVs.
Investigators say Chelius was living a lavish lifestyle. and say he splurged on jewelry, liquor, fine dining, sporting goods, golfing, electronics, charitable contributions and dues for organizations, proof they say he did not need public assistance.
"I don't wear jewelry, my wife never wore more than a wedding," Chelius disputed some of the allegation but says he's made mistakes.
Karen Guillen with the Mesa County Department of Human Services says this is one of the worst cases of welfare fraud she's seen.
She says when people defraud the system, it costs not only taxpayers, but the people who legitamately need assistance.
Guillen says she doesn't want people to be scared to apply for aid if they need it, but says they will go after people trying to cheat the system. She says there have been six cases of intentional fraud since August of 2007.
She woudn't comment on the specifics of the Chelius case because it's a pending case.
Until his next court date, Terry Chelius says he's hoping all the good things he's done and the service to his country won't be tarnished.
"I'm sorry, I'm embarrassed and I hope someone, somewhere will forgive me."
Chelius has not been formally charged. He will be back in court next week.
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