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Local News

March 28, 2014

Welfare-fraud bust in Franklin County

County accuses 23 people of ripping off public funds

MALONE — The first 14 of 23 people wanted for alleged welfare fraud in Franklin County were arrested without incident Thursday.

District Attorney Derek Champagne said the nine others still being sought were being picked up by the Malone Village Police Department, State Police, Saranac Lake Village Police and investigators from his office.

Many of those charged are accused of continuing to collect public assistance, Medicaid coverage and food stamps even though they or their spouse were working or had other sources of income, the DA said.

SCHEMES

Six people continue to be investigated for allegedly being so brazen as to try to get refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.

They would file tax returns claiming they were self-employed, the DA said, but they could offer no supporting documentation that they had even had an active business.

“The filer would then receive a refund, having paid no taxes and never having an actual business,” Champagne said in a news release.

Another person was receiving welfare benefits from New York and another state at the same time, one allegedly never had or attended medical appointments but filed a claim for transportation costs, and another allegedly collected day-care benefits even though she didn’t go to work, he said.

PAYMENTS ARRANGED

Champagne said as many as 30 more people could have been part of the roundup Thursday. But Department of Social Services Commissioner Lesley Lyon agreed to work with those people who were willing to voluntarily drop off of the welfare rolls or to make payment arrangements to reimburse the county.

“So even though you may not see an individual’s name in the paper for a welfare-fraud arrest, there may have been other arrangements made,” Lyon said in a news release.

She said 30 people signed off benefits in the past six months.

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