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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 11:02 EDT

Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General Announces February Welfare Fraud Adjudications

March 15, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nine Pennsylvania residents pleaded guilty to welfare fraud and/or were sentenced for their crimes during February, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced today.

“These cases should send a strong message to all the citizens of Pennsylvania: if you try to beat the system, you will lose,” Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner said. “I hope these prosecutions will deter others who may be thinking of committing welfare fraud.”

The following individuals were prosecuted and sentenced for fraudulently receiving public assistance benefits:

  • Melissa M. Bush, 37, of St. Marys, Elk County, formerly of Weedville, Elk County, received more than $14,200 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Bush was sentenced to 7 years probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, costs, and fines.
  • Angelita J. Cruz, 47, of Bethlehem, Northampton County, received more than $1,350 in SNAP benefits. Cruz was sentenced to 12 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.
  • Dawn A. Decker, 44, of Milroy, Mifflin County, received more than $2,250 in SNAP benefits. Decker was sentenced to 12 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, costs, and fines.
  • Sandra T. Pickering, 52, of Harrisburg, Dauphin County, received more than $1,050 in subsidized child care benefits. Pickering was sentenced to 10 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.
  • Amy J. Reed, 39, of Harrisburg, Dauphin County, received more than $1,250 in SNAP benefits. Reed was sentenced to 12 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, costs, and fines.
  • Lucinda D. Reyes, 26, of Monongahela, Washington County, formerly of Sunbury, Northumberland County, received more than $1,200 in cash assistance benefits. Reyes was sentenced to 1 year probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.
  • Juanita Robertson, 44, of Lancaster, Lancaster County, received more than $17,100 in SNAP and subsidized child care benefits. Robertson was sentenced to 6-23 months incarceration, 7 years probation and was ordered to pay full restitution.
  • Bonnie K. Shank, 56, of Milroy, Mifflin County, received more than $3,200 in SNAP benefits. Shank was sentenced to 2 days incarceration, 9 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, costs, and fines.
  • Sonia I. Vargas, 36, of Reading, Berks County, received more than $26,100 in subsidized child care benefits. Vargas was sentenced to 5 years probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.

The Office of Inspector General’s Bureau of Fraud Prevention and Prosecution is responsible for investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities for programs administered by, or contracted through, the Department of Public Welfare.

The Office of Inspector General works with the Department of Public Welfare and county assistance offices statewide to identify suspected cases of public assistance fraud and with local district attorneys to bring the cases to prosecution.

Anyone found guilty of welfare fraud could face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000, mandatory restitution, and program disqualification.

The Office of Inspector General also relies on tips from concerned citizens. To report suspected fraud, call the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582. Callers may remain anonymous.

Visit the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General online at www.oig.state.pa.us.

Media contact: Richard S. Delia, 717-787-6835

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General


Source: PR Newswire