Press-Republican

June 14, 2013

Welfare-fraud sweep in Franklin County

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — A crackdown on alleged welfare fraud in Franklin County led to charges against 11 people Thursday.

District Attorney Derek Champagne said an investigation within the County Department of Social Services turned up 14 clients who were allegedly receiving benefits they were not entitled to receive.

Each agreed to repay the department for what they took, but most did not follow through with their agreement, so they were arrested.

The people involved and their charges are:

Shannon and Timothy Allen of Malone: Third-degree grand larceny for allegedly receiving $3,794 in medical assistance.

John Baker, 38 Learned Road, Malone: Misuse of food stamps for allegedly receiving $400 in benefits.

Tammy Benware of Malone: Fifth-degree welfare fraud, petit larceny and nine counts of first-degree filing of a false instrument, for allegedly receiving $663 in day-care services.

Jacklyn Krasselt, Elm Street, Malone: Seven counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, fifth-degree welfare fraud and petit larceny, for allegedly receiving $568 in day-care services.

Steven Yelich of Malone: Misuse of food stamps and petit larceny for allegedly receiving $800 in food stamps.

Yelich, Baker, Benware and Krasselt were all sent to County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail each and are to appear later in Malone Town Court.

Stephanie Lopez of Watertown: Fourth-degree welfare fraud and fourth-degree grand larceny, for allegedly receiving $1,280 in temporary assistance. She was sent to County Jail on $1,500 bail.

Tanya Robistow of 7 Beman St., Malone: Fifth-degree welfare fraud, third-degree grand larceny, misuse of food stamps and two counts of offering a false instrument for filing, for allegedly receiving $7,147 in food stamps and medical coverage. She was released under the supervision of the Probation Department.

David Slyman Jr. of 50 Water St., Fort Covington: Third-degree welfare fraud, grand larceny, misuse of food stamps and two counts of offering a false instrument for filing, for allegedly receiving $12,000 in temporary assistance and food stamps. He was released under the supervision of the Probation Department.

Shawn Dustin, 603 County Road 5, Dickinson Center: Fifth-degree welfare fraud, petit larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, for allegedly receiving $275 in temporary assistance. He was sent to County Jail for lack of $500 bail.

A warrant was also issued for Mary Ellen Farr of Utica, who was charged with two counts of forgery.

AGGRESSIVE APPROACH

A similar sweep in May 2010 netted 10 people for welfare fraud.

“Welfare fraud is a misuse of public funds, and we’re trying to be more aggressive than we have been with these people,” Champagne said.

He said law-enforcement officials try to work with people through Social Services, but arrests will be made if they don’t follow through.

“I have grave concerns that we are simply scratching the surface of the frauds being committed against taxpayers.

“This investigation revealed others who appear to believe social assistance is a way of life and not temporary assistance,” he said.

TAX FRAUD

The investigation also turned up fraudulent tax returns, Champagne said, and he asked residents to report people they suspect are receiving large tax refunds “who clearly never paid taxes.

“Only through a community approach can we stop fraud against all taxpayers,” he said.

He sent information to the U.S. Attorney’s Office about people who claimed self employment, paid no income tax and received large refunds.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com