By Bushra Mollick and Eden Laikin
Some Nassau residents are reaping the system of its benefits – fraudulently – and the County is doing all that it can to stop it.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced that the Office of Investigations has again identified hundreds of thousands of dollars in abuse of the Welfare system, with the discovery of 13 intricately planned schemes to defraud the system out of more than $500,000.
Since Jan 1st of this year, 30 cases of fraud, waste and abuse totaling more than $888,000 have been referred for prosecution.
That brings to 68 the number of alleged defrauders that have been referred for arrest, by investigators under the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS). – since Mangano took office. The unit’s work has saved saved taxpayers more than $3.7 million in all.
While each of the recently discovered cases differ slightly, they all share the same plotline – a person lying on federal documents in order to receive unnecessary, and illegal, benefits.
One Levittown man reported a $300 per week income, when he actually earned an annual salary of $80,000. Another woman from Hempstead forged the times that she claims to have attended mandatory classes as part of her parole – in order to obtain over $3,000 in daycare expenses.
“Todays’ announcement is a deterrent for all those who are contemplating a fraudulent crime,” Mangano said, “Those who steal money from the neediest of our citizens will be caught, prosecuted and have jail time sought for the crimes they commit.”
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said “Public assistance programs are designed to help our communities’ most vulnerable members. Those who defraud the system are stealing from every tax payer.”
Director of the DSS Investigations unit, Scott Skrynecki, affirmed that while welfare crimes are not increasing, the perpetrators are becoming more “crafty.” And with the use of a “combination of sophisticated technology and traditional investigative techniques,” his investigators will continue to pinpoint welfare schemers and bring them to justice.
Other cases just uncovered include:
· A 29-year-old Levittown man allegedly lied to DSS on his Medicaid application and re-certifications for 5 years in order to illegally qualify for $92,527 in medical benefits for himself, his wife and two children.
· A 38-year-old Baldwin man allegedly received Medicaid benefits in the amount of $49,673 after failing to report his accurate income.
· A 53-year-old Manhasset woman lied about her income and concealed the fact that she and her husband were living off his $480,000 IRA account in order to illegally receive $20,175 in Medicaid benefits.
· A 56-year-old West Hempstead grandmother conspired with her daughter to lie about the family’s household composition in order to illegally qualify for $23,040 in Day Care benefits for her granddaughter.
· A 60-year-old Bellmore woman lied about her household composition by stating that she and her husband were separated in order to qualify for $25,343 in Medicaid benefits. Referral from NYS Office of Medicaid Inspector General.
· A 41-year-old Hempstead woman forged her sister’s name on timesheets, which indicated that the sister was providing Day Care services for the woman’s children. As a result, the woman illegally received $182,793 in Medicaid, Day Care and SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits.
· A 38-year-old Roosevelt woman concealed the fact that she earned income from renting rooms in the home that she owns and failed to report a $6,000 lawsuit settlement in order to illegally qualify for $16,888 in Medicaid, Cash Assistance and SNAP (Food Stamps).
“Let today’s announcement serve as a deterrent to those contemplating committing welfare fraud,” Mangano said. “The consequences are not worth it. Jail time, legal fees, restitution, not to mention the embarrassment of being arrested and having your friends, family and neighbors know of your indiscretions. A conviction of these crimes will remain on your permanent record and follow you for the rest of your life. This conduct will not be tolerated here in Nassau County.”
Mangano added that if anyone has any information regarding welfare fraud and would like to report questionable practices in programs such as Medicaid, Day Care, Food Stamps, Public Assistance and Family Health Plus, please call 1-877-711-TIPS(8477). All calls are completely confidential and callers can remain anonymous.