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Nielsen pleads guilty to fraud

Food-stamp scam gets ex-Medford planning commissioner five days in jail, probation

A former Medford planning commissioner will spend five days in jail for food stamp fraud, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia ruled on Tuesday.

Dennis Michael Nielsen, 53, pleaded guilty to the felony and must pay &

36;5,380 in restitution and undergo 18 months supervised probation, said prosecutor Karen Loomis.

Nielsen also faces an unrelated charge of racketeering, for which he will go on trial in September.

Charges against his wife, Joni Nielsen, were dropped after the former commissioner admitted forging her signature to obtain the food stamps, said Loomis.

Mr. Dennis Nielsen ... had to admit on the record that he forged his wife's signature on the food stamp application three times, Loomis said.

She knew that her husband was getting food stamps, but he told her that it would just be for him and the kids, she said. The Nielsens have two children.

Nielsen declined to comment on either Tuesday's plea or the pending racketeering trial.

Loomis said Medford police found evidence of the fraudulent food stamp use while conducting a search in connection with the racketeering case.

They came across a folder with documents regarding food stamps that the family was receiving, she said, so there was an investigation involving the Department of Human Resources.

According to Loomis, Nielsen earned income of at least &

36;36,500 during the six-month period from which the charges stem. His wife also received payments totaling &

36;16,000 during that time, Loomis added.

The payments were made to the Loomis family from Nielsen's First Choice Construction company. Nielsen's partner in the company, Lee Mitchell Greenstone, is a co-defendant in the racketeering case.

In the racketeering case, Nielsen and Greenstone are accused of overbilling a client for construction services at an office on Mason Way. The two jointly ran First Choice Construction.

Reach news intern Christian Bringhurst at 776-4459 or e-mail