LIVINGSTON COUNTY— The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office announced that 27 arrests were made in the past year regarding welfare fraud and abuse, totaling in $63,968 in defrauded revenue from the system.
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The Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division, the Department of Social Services (DSS) Fraud Unit, and the District Attorney’s Office all worked together to investigate reported welfare abuse. Charges of those accused range from misdemeanor Petit Larceny, Identity Theft, and Criminal Use of Public Benefit Card to felony Grand Larceny and Welfare Fraud.
“We saw the need to commit Sheriff’s Office resources to fight welfare abuse in Livingston County,” said Sheriff Thomas Dougherty in a press release. “The teamwork and coordination between our office, the District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Social Services has been effective and efficient resulting in successful investigations and prosecutions. Our office is not against those utilizing the welfare system, but we will continue to aggressively pursue those that are abusing the system.”
Those alleged to have commit the fraud in the most recent round-up were: Michael J. Snyder, John M. Pratt, Christine M. Pratt, Heather J. Henry, Courtney R. Cullinan, Eliezer Santiago, Luis M. Carrasquillo, Megan J. Leach, Anthony C. Adams, Deena M. Meyers, Ashley M. Beardsley, Nicole L. Walker, Parris H. Macwilliams.
“The DA’s Office and Sheriff’s Office Administrations understand that in the current economic climate and the financial constraints all counties are operating under, it is our obligation and responsibility to find those who are abusing the system and these cases will not be overlooked any longer,” said Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey. “The DA’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office are making these types of cases priority and are looking to commit even more time and resources to this endeavor moving forward.”
The County is utilizing all tools on hand to prosecute those who take advantage of a system which is designed to help those in need get back on their feet, not support whoever wants money at the expense of the taxpayers. According to the press release, the increase in welfare fraud arrests are a result of Department leaders making this a top priority and a more efficient review process of fraud complaints.
“Once an allegation of fraud is received by the Department, and a desk review is completed with regard to all the information DSS knows about this referred person, as well as confirmation regarding employment or other sources of income that can be confirmed through computer system matches or letters to employers, we refer these cases to the Sheriff’s Office for field investigations.” said Commissioner Diane Dean from the Livingston County DSS. “The three departments are working together to make the process more efficient and timely. In the past, investigations and prosecutions could take many months, oftentimes a year or more, and occasionally longer than that.”
Those currently defrauding the system have been served clear notice by County Officials in this and other massive busts, and the County is not slowing down in its focus on fraudulent crime.
“The message is clear and simple – if you abuse the system of public assistance, we will catch you and you will be prosecuted,” said Livingston County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Eric Gott. “We applaud the cooperative, professional work of our County departments and we encourage people to utilize the County’s confidential tip line to alert us of any possible fraudulent activity.”
PHOTO CAPTION: A portion of those arrested in the past year for Welfare Fraud. Images courtesy of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office.