Kayla Montgomery wants bail reduced; lawyer says welfare fraud charges are unfounded

·1 min read

Jan. 10—The stepmother of Harmony Montgomery wants her bail reduced claiming that prosecutors have admitted that the welfare fraud charges that she faces are unfounded.

The lawyer for Kayla Montgomery, 31, filed papers Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court to reopen the issue of bail.

Last week, police arrested Kayla at a family shelter and charged her with welfare fraud for allegedly collecting food stamps for Harmony even though the girl was not living with Kayla.

But prosecutors contacted Kayla's lawyer and told him the charge "is unfounded, although a lesser charge or charges may be warranted," lawyer Paul Garrity, wrote. Since the felony was the most serious charge she faces, Garrity wants her bail reopened.

Homicide prosecutor Jesse O'Neill, who is in overseeing the case, said he will file an objection but would not comment further.

At one point, Harmony lived with her father, Kayla, and the couple's three children. But Kayla has said she hasn't seen Harmony since Thanksgiving 2019.

— Mark Hayward

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