MANCHESTER, N.H. (WFFF) — Kayla Montgomery, the stepmother of a missing New Hampshire girl, pleaded not guilty to a charge of welfare fraud Thursday. She is accused of collecting food stamp benefits for more than a year on behalf of 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery, who disappeared more than two years ago.
Kayla allegedly collected an extra $1,500 through June 2021 even though she last saw Harmony in November 2019. She was taken into custody just one day after her husband, Adam Montgomery, was arrested on charges related to Harmony’s disappearance.
Kayle reportedly told police that she tried to remove Harmony from the account, though court documents allegedly refute that. Prosecutors say she didn’t comply with court orders after filing a false report to law enforcement. “This is basically a white-collar case where the evidence is documented,” said Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill.
The state asked that she be held on a $5,000 bail, but her lawyer requested she be released to her mother. “She has a history of employment, she has a close relationship with her children, and she has significant ties to the area and a place to reside,” her lawyer remarked.
The search for Harmony is ongoing. Manchester Police say community members and business leaders have donated $60,000 in reward money for tips leading to her whereabouts.