Press-Republican

Local News

June 17, 2011

Welfare fraud in Franklin County

FRANKLIN COUNTY — A Franklin County sweep netted more than a dozen individuals accused of welfare fraud.

Social Services officials say people who cheat the system can prevent an individual or family who truly needs assistance from accessing it.

MORE ARRESTS

Law-enforcement officials said further arrests are pending.

"Any individuals who have agreed to make payments and have failed to do so are strongly urged to make payments immediately, as all outstanding cases are currently being reviewed for potential criminal charges," a press release from Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne's office states.

"Presently approximately 100 cases are scheduled to be reviewed."

FRAUD BUST

On Thursday, Franklin County officers swept the area for individuals accused of frauds, thefts and false-instrument filings with Franklin County Department of Social Services Programs.

A total of 15 local residents were arrested by Malone Village Police, Saranac Lake Village Police, Tupper Lake Village Police, Franklin County Sheriff's Department and New York State Police.

Law-enforcement officials advised that individuals should be aware of their reporting requirements and comply.

"DSS programs are meant to help and assist, not become a way of life or a system to cheat and abuse for one's personal gain," said Champagne.

"Allegations such as these hurt those who genuinely deserve assistance by attaching the stigma that the entire system is plagued by fraud."

TOUGH TIMES

Franklin County Department of Social Services Commissioner Lesley B. Lyon stressed that it is vital his office diligently investigate possible welfare fraud for the use of all services, especially Medicaid, food stamps, public assistance and day care.

It is difficult to find employment in today's economy, which means an increasing number of people depend on public benefits to feed themselves and their families and to provide medications for those who are ill, he said.

"For every person who fraudulently obtains such benefits, it jeopardizes the ability of the country to provide for those who are really in need."

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