January 14, 2013: The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said yesterday that Natalie Suleman, who is 38 and the mother of 14 children, has been charged with welfare fraud for failing to report $30,000 she earned in 2012 while collecting various forms of welfare.
In photo, at, left, Suleman with 8 of her 14 children.
Suleman was ordered to appear in court this Friday, and bail was set at $25,000. A conviction could carry up to five years/eight months in prison. (Earlier this year, she left the children with three nannies and checked herself into a rehab center in Florida for Xanax addiction. According to a spokesman, she "has an overabundance of stress and exhaustion and wanted to deal with it without prescription drugs.”)
Suleman's earnings, as the Washington Post reports, in a pick up from the Associated Press, came from: "... at least one porn video; [she] posed topless for various publications, danced in a Florida strip club and ]took part] in so-called celebrity boxing matches as she’s struggled to support her children..."
Suleman’s children, who range in age from almost-5 to 12, were conceived via in vitro fertility treatments. She gave birth to the octuplets, nine weeks prematurely, in January 2009; her physician later admitted to having implanted 12 embryos in her uterus (with knowledge that she was already the single parent of six children under the age of 7). The AP writes:
[Suleman has] been careful about shielding [the children] from media attention, but occasional video and print articles seem to indicate they are growing up healthy... Suleman was unemployed and had been collecting welfare before the children were born...
At one point child welfare officials investigated allegations that she wasn’t properly caring for the children. No charges were ever brought.
Celebitchy, a gossip blog, posted at the time:
... Orange County Social Services [Suleman was the living in LaHabra] does not comment specifically on individual investigations, Terry Lynn Fisher, the public information officer...[said to E! News]: "You have to look at the whole picture...There are days when the plumbing goes out and you have to call a plumber. It’s not against the law for people to leave unfolded laundry on the floor. It’s not against the law to allow kids to draw on the walls..."... as for another reported aspect of the Suleman home—namely that there were outdoor training toilets on the property—Fisher noted that had that been the case, it wouldn’t necessarily merit a violation. “Look, she’s toilet-training eight 3-year-olds...While the situation may not meet your or my idea, it’s not against the law.” Besides, Fisher said that she saw photos of the octo-house and said it was far from the worst of what she’s experienced.
“While her home isn’t in pristine condition, it’s not against the law. It’s nothing like the homes we have seen. I’ve seen a home where the walls looked like they were moving, cockroaches crawling up and down the wall, even falling out of the ceiling.
“Our goal is not to remove kids from the families. It’s to strengthen the families. We make every attempt to let families stay together. We don’t yank kids from the home unnecessarily. If we get a call that a child is being neglected, they would look at the conditions, see if any immediate risk that would place the children in danger.”
And so, the nation will spend a few hours this week parsing the economics of California's safety net at the micro level. A sample, again from Celebitchy: "...When [Suleman] first became famous...it came to light that she had been on disability for over six years...[and had] received child disability payments for three out of six of her older children, and that she also used food stamps... she went back on welfare in early 2012, receiving about 4-5k a month in government assistance. Around that time,Suleman declared bankruptcy and signed on to an adult solo film. Under California law, based on the number of children she has, she’s allowed to make $119,000 a year and still receive government aid...However, Suleman made over $150,000 in 2012, in appearance fees and various gigs..."