Press-Republican

December 2, 2013

Welfare-fraud sweep nets 14 in Clinton County

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Fourteen Clinton County residents are charged with defrauding the state to the tune of more than $105,000.

“In terms of money, I believe this is one of the biggest welfare fraud sweeps in the history of the tri-county area,” said Clinton County Assistant District Attorney Jason Marx, who will be prosecuting the cases with Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie.

A 15th suspect had not yet been taken into custody as of Friday; the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department made the arrests.

’CHEAT PROGRAMS’

“Here in the North County, such benefits provide vital support to sincerely needy families and at a great cost to hard-working taxpayers,” Wylie said in a press release.

“Those who cheat these programs are stealing food, medicine and other necessary benefits from children, seniors, working citizens and others in need.”

John Redden, commissioner of the Clinton County Department of Social Services, said the department’s Fraud Unit “will continue to work with the District Attorney’s Office to crack down on people who commit welfare fraud.”

Clinton County Legislature Chair James Langley spoke to the government’s scant financial resources, saying, “(When) resources are being stretched to the limit, it’s critical that those who commit welfare fraud and abuse taxpayer dollars are held accountable for their unlawful and dishonest actions.”

Assisting the DA’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department in the investigation and apprehension of those charged were the Clinton County Social Services Fraud Unit, the Social Service Resource Unit and the Medicaid Unit.

All charges are felonies. Those arrested were arraigned in Plattsburgh City Court or Plattsburgh Town Court between Nov. 16 and 27. Those not sent to the Clinton County Jail were released as part of the Pre-Trial Release Program.

Charged are:

Chandra K. Barrett, 35, of Peru was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny for allegedly receiving $2,011 in public assistance benefits after failing to accurately report her income. Barrett was released from the Clinton County Jail after posting $4,400 bail bond, according to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. She is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial conference Dec. 5. Barrett’s attorney is Allan Cruikshank.

Annamarie J. Blanchard-Smith, 28, of Plattsburgh was charged with fourth-degree welfare fraud and two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. She allegedly illegally received $2,114.14 after failing to accurately report her income. She is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial conference Dec. 3 with her lawyer, Miriam Hadden.

Stephen O. Buskey, 42, of Champlain was charged with third-degree grand larceny and three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Buskey allegedly unlawfully received $23,029.44 in mileage voucher reimbursements from the Clinton County Department of Social Services. Buskey is scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial conference Dec. 18. He is represented by Daniel Gaudreau.

Jannette Drake, 40, of Ellenburg was charged with third-degree grand larceny. Drake allegedly illegally obtained $4,442.25 in medical assistance benefits by failing to accurately report her household income. Drake is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 10. Peter Dumas will act as her counsel.

Nathan M. Drake, 37, of Ellenburg was charged with third-degree grand larceny. Drake allegedly received $4,442.25 in medical assistance benefits that he wasn’t eligible for by falsely reporting his household income. He is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 10. His lawyer is Peter Dumas.

Gary Duffina, 62, of Mooers was charged with third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Duffina allegedly unlawfully received $28,316.25 in medical assistance benefits by failing to accurately report his income. A court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 19. Duffina is represented by attorney David Gervais.

Nicholas Jaster, 39, of Plattsburgh was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. Jaster allegedly received $2,739.09 in public assistance benefits he was not entitled to after he failed to report his employment income. Jaster’s case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference Dec. 19. His lawyer is Allan Cruikshank.

Linda Latour, 64, of Plattsburgh was charged with third-degree welfare fraud and 11 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Latour allegedly illegally received $16,585.28 in medical and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. She is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 5 with her attorney, Daniel Gaudreau.

Liza M. Moulton, 28, of Plattsburgh was charged with third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. She allegedly received $3,334.62 in medical assistance benefits for which she was not eligible to receive by not reporting her income. She is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 5. Her attorney is Matthew Favro.

Elizabeth Muzzy, 46, of Vermontville was charged with third-degree grand larceny. Muzzy is alleged to have failed to report her household income and to have received $3,426.67 in medical assistance benefits to which she was not entitled. Muzzy is set to appear for a pre-trial conference Dec. 4. Tina Soloski will act as counsel.

Neil Muzzy, 39, of Vermontville was charged with third-degree grand larceny and is alleged to have received $3,426.67 in medical assistance benefits he was not entitled to receive by not reporting his household income. Muzzy has a pre-trial conference scheduled for Dec. 4. His attorney is William Meconi.

Heather Recore, 43, of Plattsburgh was charged with third-degree grand larceny and three counts of offering a false instrument for filing. Recore allegedly received $4,052.47 in mileage voucher reimbursement to which she was not entitled. Recore’s case was transferred from Plattsburgh Town Court to Plattsburgh City Court, and a pre-trial conference is scheduled for Dec. 18. Recore is represented by Miriam Hadden.

Phyliss A. Rock, 58, of Morrisonville was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. Rock allegedly defrauded the government by receiving $2,739.09 in medical assistance benefits she was not entitled to by failing to report her employment. Rock is scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial conference Dec. 6 with her attorney, Michael Phillips.

Marcel A. Bibeau, 47, of Plattsburgh was charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Bibeau is alleged to have illegally received $3,006.86 in public assistance benefits after failing to report his employment. His case was transferred from Plattsburgh City Court to County Court. He remained in the Clinton County Jail Friday without bail, according to the County Sheriff’s Department. Bibeau will appear in court at a later date. His attorney is Rebecca Fox.

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg

 

 

TIP LINE The DA's Office has an online tip line for citizens to anonymously report fraud at the top right-hand side of the Clinton County District Attorney's website, which can be accessed through www.clintoncountygov.com.