LOS ANGELES — “Octomom” Nadya Suleman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of welfare fraud and agreed to return to court next month for a another hearing if her case isn’t resolved with a plea deal before then.
The 38-year-old mother of 14 children previously pleaded not guilty to three similar felony counts accusing her of failing to reveal earnings she was receiving from videos and personal appearances while cashing welfare checks last year. With the addition of the fourth count, authorities say she owes the state about $26,000 in restitution.
During a hearing that lasted barely five minutes, Suleman spoke only once, to softly say yes, when Superior Court Judge David M. Horowitz asked if she agreed to waive her right to trial to return to court April 16 for another hearing.
She smiled briefly but didn’t speak as she quickly left the courtroom.
“We’re doing discovery, we’re investigating the case and then we’ll be back to talk to the district attorney to see if this can be resolved,” Suleman’s attorney, Arthur J. LaCilento, said outside court. The two sides are scheduled to return to court April 16.
Suleman, who remains free on her own recognizance, could be sentenced to as much as six years and four months in jail. But prosecutors have said it’s unlikely she would serve that much time, if any, if she agrees to pay back the money.
Suleman, whose real name is Natalie Denise Suleman, became famous in 2009 by giving birth to eight children who quickly became the world’s longest-surviving octuplets. Like her six older children, they were conceived by in-vitro fertilization.
She struggled almost from the start to support them and has earned 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.