Jury Finds Santa Barbara Woman Guilty of Welfare Fraud

Santa Barbara County District Attorney John T. Savrnoch announced today that on April 3, 2024, a Santa Barbara jury found Lynda Gemberling guilty of two counts of Perjury and one count of Welfare Fraud, all felonies. The case was investigated by District Attorney Investigator Patrick Adams and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Sean Brunton.

In 2019 and again in 2020, Ms. Gemberling applied with the Department of Social Services (DSS) for food stamps (CalFresh) and Cash Aid (CalWorks) programs, reporting that she had no income. In fact, Ms. Gemberling was receiving child support payments during this time but failed to report those payments as income, despite the applications clearly defining income as including child support. DSS became aware of the fraud after being contacted by the Department of Child Support Service (DCSS). Any time a person applies for aid with DSS, DSS sends a referral to DCSS to determine if the applicant is receiving child support. In this case, DCSS reported to DSS that Ms. Gemberling had been receiving child support payments.

After receiving notice from DCSS regarding the fraud, DSS sent a referral to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office which then opened an investigation into Ms. Gemberling, resulting in the filing of criminal charges in September 2022.

District Attorney John T. Savrnoch commented, “CalFresh and CalWorks are vital programs that California provides to those in need. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who abuse the trust of the taxpayers in this state by exploiting government programs intended to help our state’s most vulnerable.”

Sentencing for Ms. Gemberling will take place on May 9, 2024, before the Honorable Pauline Maxwell, in Department 2 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court.


Written by SBCDistrictAttorney

Press releases written by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office. Learn more at da.countyofsb.org

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  1. This feels like an extreme punishment. It’s not like she scammed a bunch of elderly people out of their retirement. Fine her and move on. A jury trial for failing to disclose income would put most entrepreneurs in jail.

  2. Thank you district attorney for prosecuting. You’re doing a great service to the community for standing up for the truly needy. We need more district attorneys across the nation like you. I have no empathy for those scamming the system. Let this be a lesson to those scammers out there.

  3. Cheap shot by the DA. If he felt the need to prosecute he should do so with some humility. This is NOT a significant conviction and the criminal is not a significance threat to the community. The whole thing, especially the PR release, smacks of opportunism and pandering to the right wing fantasy that welfare is rife with theft. “Cadillac Moms” etc.

  4. People like this leave a trail of Destruction in the lives of others. I guarantee this is not her first crime it’s just the first time she’s been caught. It’s about time she gets what she deserves.

  5. There is a child involved who comes from a broken home and now faces the consequences of a parent who has this on their record along with potential incarceration and a sweet dose of public shame. That makes me quite sad tbh. Jeff, one time was enough, and looks like you don’t really know anyway, by the third time I realized that you could be the guy who left the note that he called the cops to give me a parking ticket for the Hummer bumper being two inches in the red. I was GUILTY dead to rights and got away with it! Let’s not forget that every month or two felons (mostly convicted by juries) serving lengthy sentences In the USA are exonerated and released not just for one reason or another – but because they were INNOCENT. So I have some trouble getting righteous over a self serving press release that could be as intent upon fishing out media coverage for the next campaign as much as to put out a public message of deterrence. Also the notion that most of us are law abiding citizens only due to the threat of jail mocks and belies a few millennia of social, religious, and ethical development of the human race. Certainly laws and punishment are part of the equation and may be warranted in this case – I don’t know any more than uh, Jeff, I think. But believe it or not, most people, including many of those in jail, are actually decent human beings. By the same token, there are people who are actually evil, violent, predatory, and dangerous to themselves and others and need to be isolated from public society, incapacitated and safely housed. I think best to balance this kind of news with compassion.

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