(01/11/2012)
A Lewis County woman whose 3-year-old daughter has been missing for more than three months pleaded guilty yesterday before a US Magistrate to a federal charge of welfare fraud.

Lena Lunsford, 29, pleaded guilty to selling $114 worth of credit on her food stamp card for $50 cash.

Lunsford had been indicted on multiple counts in October, accused of swapping for cash five times in two months.

Lunsford will be sentenced later and could get as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine under the plea bargain.

Her 3-year-old daughter Aliayah vanished from the family's Weston home on Sept 24. Investigators are treating the disappearance as a crime but have yet to make arrests or name suspects.

Weeks after Aliayah vanished, Lunsford was indicted in the fraud.

Officials have ordered Lena Lunsford to live apart from her husband after he admitted in court that he had bought and used synthetic bath salts. Lena Lunsford is to undergo drug counseling.

Police caught the Lunsfords outside a Clarksburg paraphernalia shop.

While the Lunsfords have repeatedly refused to speak to the media about Aliayah's disappearance, numerous protesters have appeared outside her court hearings, claiming she is withholding information about the toddlers disappearance.


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