Northwood woman enters Alford plea to deceiving state out of assistance, faces prison on probation revocation

NORTHWOOD — A Northwood woman accused of deceiving the state out of housing and food assistance has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors.

46-year-old Jennifer Mikesell was accused of falsely telling officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services that her husband was not living with her in order to get housing and food assistance. Mikesell is said to have received just over $10,000 in state aid between November 2021 and June 2022.

Mikesell was charged with single counts of ongoing criminal conduct, first-degree theft, and first-degree fraudulent practice and was scheduled to be tried on the charge starting on Tuesday, but as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors filed a written Alford plea on Friday to one count of second-degree theft, a Class D felony.

With an Alford plea, a person does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a likely conviction.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors are recommending a five-year prison sentence, a $1025 fine and restitution. The state is also recommending that Mikesell’s probation be revoked on a previous ongoing criminal conduct felony conviction.

Mikesell was sentenced in January 2021 to five years probation and a suspended 25-year prison term after receiving a bedroom makeover as well as other benefits donated through a non-profit group after she falsely claimed she had cancer.

Mikesell is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22nd.