INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – A Missouri couple pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing from their community by faking the birth of sextuplets in order to tap their neighbors' generosity.
Sarah and Kris Everson were sentenced to four years on probation after their pleas to charges of felony stealing by deceit. They also must repay about $3,700 to their victims and perform 40 hours of community service.
Assistant Jackson County prosecutor Tammy Dickinson said she was satisfied with a plea agreement that let the couple avoid prison time.
The Eversons, of the Kansas City suburb of Grain Valley, could have faced seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine. They refused to comment extensively after the hearing.
"We already made our apologies," Sarah Everson said.
But later Wednesday, she told The Associated Press: "Now that I have these papers that say we're on probation and not going to jail, I'll be able to get a job," said Sarah Everson, 45. "It's not over until all of this is over, until we're off probation and have paid it back. We're homeless; we have to get jobs."
Community leaders in Grain Valley said the Eversons came to them in March, claiming that Sarah Everson had delivered six critically ill babies and that they needed assistance. The couple claimed the births had been kept secret by a court order because a family member was out to kill them.
Within days of the story appearing in the local paper, The Examiner, the couple were barraged by questions from the media. They eventually admitted the entire tale was a lie.
Police Chief Aaron Ambrose said the couple took in money and other gifts through a bank account, a post office box and their own Web site. Employees at the plant where Kris Everson, 35, worked gave the couple up to $2,400, according to court papers.
On Wednesday, Sarah Everson said the couple had been kicked out of their home recently and were living in their truck. She said her husband was working day-labor jobs, making about $30 a day and that she was unemployed.
She said they will try to make their restitution payments, which the judge set at $50 a month each.