Saturday, January 5, 2019

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Sullivan County stands tough on welfare fraud

MONTICELLO – Sullivan County’s top law enforcement and social services officials remain vigilant in their efforts to thwart welfare fraud.

In 2018 alone, the county’s Welfare Fraud Task Force has made 100 arrests of alleged cheaters, prevented $390,000 in county funds from being spent by would-be cheaters and $415,000 in alleged overpayments, arrests and prosecutions.

District Attorney James Farrell, Friday, had a message to the public.

“While Sullivan County remains ready to help those in need we will not be taken advantage of, and we will not allow those who falsify applications for assistance to defraud our taxpayers,” Farrell said. “As stewards of the tax money, we will not allow people to steal from us. We will ensure that public assistance benefits and programs are properly administered and anyone abusing them will be held to account through arrest, investigation and prosecution.”

The county task force consists of investigators from the DA’s Office, Division of Family Services, and sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Michael Sheriff said anyone who takes advantage of the system, will be held accountable. “The monies the county gives out are there for people in need and if you falsify an application, it is inappropriate,” Schiff said. “We need to save those funds for the people who desperately need them.”  

Deputy Family Services Commissioner William Moon said due to the efforts of the welfare task force, the county has the lowest public assistance caseload in more 15 years, down to about 500 cases each month “and that is a tremendous decrease over the last three-plus years.” He credited the task force for playing a role in that.

Moon’s “pet peeve” in welfare fraud is the misuse of Medicaid transportation funds. Such transportation is meant to take a recipient to and from a doctor’s or other health-related appointment. But, he said there have been many cases of people using the funds to go to a store to buy beer and cigarettes, go to a swimming pool or pick up their children. “When someone misuses medical transportation, they are usually charged with a felony,” Moon warned.

 


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