January 18, 2013
MANGANO: OFFICE OF INVESTIGATIONS UNCOVERS 17 NEW WELFARE FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSE CASES
$3.2 Million in Taxpayer Savings Achieved in Past 20 Months
Mineola, NY - Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano announced today that the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS) Office of Investigations continues to uncover individuals attempting to defraud Nassau County taxpayers, most recently discovering 17 elaborate schemes to cheat the system out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since April 2011, Nassau DSS has identified more than $3.2 million in savings and has referred a total of 55 cases that resulted in arrests.
County Executive Mangano stated, “Those who steal money from the neediest of our citizens will be caught, prosecuted and have jail time sought for the crime they commit.”
Some highlights of the 17 cases referred to District Attorney Rice for prosecution and restitution include:
- A 43-year-old South Shore registered nurse illegally qualified for $111,597 in Medicaid, Day Care and SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits by lying about her employment, submitting forged documentation and failing to inform DSS that she was recently employed at a major hospital. A DSS investigation revealed that the nurse submitted fraudulent employment verification forms, including forging the signature of the elderly woman for whom she was working as a “nanny” since 2006. Investigators discovered that the elderly woman was the nurse’s own mother and that she did not have any dependent children for which the nurse could act as a nanny. Individuals who apply for Day Care benefits must prove that they are employed and require child care for their children during the hours of their employment. When presented with this information, the nurse admitted that she lied on the employment verification forms and forged her mother’s signature. In addition, despite landing a job as a nurse in a Long Island hospital in January 2010, she failed to inform DSS until September of that year, all while continuing to receive Medicaid, Day Care and SNAP benefits for her and her two children.
- A 61-year-old South Shore man illegally qualified for $4,233 worth of Medicaid benefits because he failed to report to DSS that he was employed by the owner of a real estate company that rents apartments to DSS welfare recipients. In a shameful case of double dipping, the man worked to find interested renters to fill vacant apartments owned by the real estate company. Some of those renters were Nassau County public assistance recipients who receive rental assistance through the Department of Social Services. A public assistance recipient himself, on his 2009 Medicaid application the man reported that he earned $7,500 per year working for a community service organization. However, the DSS investigators that he earned $64,000 annually working for the real estate company.
- After being presented with the findings of a DSS investigation, a 29-year-old mid-Nassau woman admitted to fabricating employment verification forms for a job that she never worked, falsely reporting that the father of her children was not in the picture and keeping DSS payments totaling $12,222, which were meant to pay for Day Care services that she admitted to never utilizing for her own personal use. Day Care benefits are paid to each recipient who are then supposed to use those funds to pay their child care provider. The investigation revealed that she never worked for the Brooklyn shop owned by her friend that employed her, but forged her friend’s signature on a DSS form indicating she worked 40 hours per week. The woman also admitted that she has not utilized the services of her registered day care provider, who is based in Brooklyn, since she moved to Nassau County in April 2012.
- A 39-year-old Nassau resident lied to DSS on his Medicaid application and re-certifications for 5 years in order to illegally qualify for $54,927 in medical benefits for himself, his wife and two children. A DSS investigation revealed that, despite reporting on his application that he was employed at a Manhattan greeting card store, he has been the CEO/owner/operator of that store since April 2000 and, in 2010 he and his wife had a combined income of over $100,000 which they did not report to DSS. This case represents a growing trend of welfare recipients and applicants who are small business owners but unlawfully report to DSS that they are merely employees drawing a modest salary from the business which they actually own and operate.
- The DSS Day Care Eligibility Fraud project has uncovered a 42-year-old South Shore woman who illegally qualified for $60,530 in Day Care benefits over three years by lying about her income, work hours, marital status and the whereabouts of the allegedly absent father of her four daughters. The DSS investigation revealed that, although the woman reported to DSS that she did not know the whereabouts of the father of her children, when investigators went to the woman’s residence, he was at the residence and admitted to living with the mother and children. During undercover surveillance performed at the woman’s home on several occasions, investigators observed the father leave the house and drive away in a 2008 Mercedes Benz. The father is a licensed physician’s assistant employed by a company that provides healthcare services to a New York City department. In addition to the home in Baldwin, jointly owned by the mother and father of the children, the family owns two homes in Atlanta, Georgia. From 2008 to 2011, the combined income of the mother and father ranged from $141,000 to $216,000 annually. On her initial application, the mother reported that she earned $41,000 as an accountant. This case is just one of many Day Care fraud investigations pursued by Nassau County as part of a ground-breaking program to reduce child care subsidy fraud, in cooperation with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services.
DSS Commissioner John Imhof noted that “our DSS Investigators are using all the latest technological tools available to make sure no one gets away with cheating the public welfare system. The team is doing a great job and is already involved in investigating several new cases that have been brought to our attention.
DSS Director of Investigations Scott Skrynecki stated that “I urge the public to report known instances of welfare fraud and abuse by calling the Fraud hotline at 1-877-711-TIPS (8477). All calls are completely confidential.”