(NewsNation Now) — The stepmother of a girl who disappeared in 2019 at age 5 has been charged with welfare fraud for collecting food stamps in the girl’s name, the New Hampshire attorney general’s office said Thursday.
Kayla Montgomery, 31, of Manchester, has been charged one with one count of welfare fraud on suspicion of obtaining $1,500 in food stamps from December 2019 to June 2021 for Harmony Montgomery, even though the girl was not living with Kayla and her husband, Adam Montgomery.
Kayla Montgomery pleaded not guilty in Hillsborough County Superior Court. Her lawyer asked that she be released on her own recognizance. The judge agreed to a prosecutor’s request for $5,000 bail, ruling that Montgomery, who has a misdemeanor criminal record, must check in daily in person with Manchester police.
Adam Montgomery, 31, was charged Wednesday with several counts, including failing to have Harmony in his custody. His lawyer entered not guilty pleas on his behalf. He has been jailed without bail.
Harmony’s great-uncle, Kevin Montgomery, told NewsNation he gave family services “plenty of evidence and they ignored it.”
“There were just things that raised an alarm with me. And I called the authorities,” Kevin told NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield. “And just be clear, I love the police. They’re doing everything they can. First and foremost, family services failed my niece here. And that’s why we’re here today. If they listened in the first place, this wouldn’t be happening.”
He said he hasn’t spoken with his nephew Adam Montgomery, who has been charged in the case, “in years.”
Despite the uncertainty, Kevin remains optimistic.
“My gut tells me there’s always hope until you tell me there’s no hope left to have,” he said.
Officials are asking for the public’s assistance locating Harmony. Two local business owners and two Massachusetts businessmen have donated more than $20,000 toward reward money for finding Harmony, according to the Manchester Police Department.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.