By John Rogers
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Octomom Nadya Suleman pleaded no contest Monday to a single count of misdemeanor welfare fraud for failing to disclose income she was receiving from videos and personal appearances while collecting more than $26,000 in public assistance funds to care for her 14 children.
Suleman was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and two years of probation, and ordered to pay a small fine. Her attorney, Arthur J. LaCilento, said that with financial help from friends, his client has already repaid the county welfare system.
"We could have litigated, there were a lot of issues we could have raised," LaCilento said of the possibility of taking the case to trial. "But she wanted to resolve this case quickly and not go through a public ordeal."
Suleman became famous in 2009 by giving birth to eight children who quickly became the world's longest-surviving octuplets. Like their six older siblings, the octuplets were conceived by in-vitro fertilization. Suleman has never revealed their father's identity.
She struggled to support them, resorting to earning money by doing a porn video, posing topless for different publications, dancing in a strip club and taking part in boxing matches with D-list celebrities.
Facing economic challenges last year, she applied for welfare benefits and collected $26,286 that she wasn't entitled to, authorities say.
The district attorney's office said she has since repaid $9,805 to the California Department of Health Care Services and $16,481 to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services.
Suleman, 39, originally faced four felony counts and could have been sentenced to more than six years in jail.
Prosecutors said from the beginning, however, that they hoped to work out a plea bargain so she could remain free to care for her children.
Suleman has carefully shielded her children from public view since the octuplets were born.