A former mail carrier from Shirley has been charged with illegally receiving more than $143,000 in workers' compensation benefits by falsely claiming that a job-related injury in 2006 prevented her from working, according to officials and court documents.

Alice Brown, 53, in fact regularly worked at a Shirley bagel shop since September of 2007, federal agents said. She was seen "cooking and waiting on customers with apparent ease," agents said.

Brown, 53, pleaded not guilty at arraignment Thursday before U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip. She was charged with theft of federal benefits and three counts of false statements to obtain federal benefits.

Starting in April 2006, Brown started receiving workers' compensation benefits in monthly checks of $2,762, according to papers filed by an agent of the inspector general's office of the postal service.

Brown, who earned $40,000 annually as a mail carrier, regularly submitted forms saying her back injuries continued and she was not working, the papers said.

But agents watched Brown working at Strathmore Bagels in Shirley on days between January 2011 and March 2012.

In June 2011, however, Brown's physician stated that she was "still unable to work due to pain." Yet in February of 2012, Brown was seen and taped "working daily for two straight weeks for approximately 10 hours a day at Strathmore," the court papers said.

Neither personnel at the bagel shop nor Brown's doctor were accused of wrongdoing. Owners of the bagel shop could not be reached for comment.

Seybert released Brown on $50,000 bail. Her attorney, Randi Chavis, declined to comment, as did Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Canty. If convicted, Brown could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and forfeiture of the benefits.

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