Desperate times sometimes drive people to do things that they normally would never even consider. Despite the professional or personal status of an individual, tough economic times may lead to a course of action deemed questionable in the eyes of the law. Recently, a North Carolina Social Services employee was charged with fraud under uncertain circumstances.
The 33-year-old woman had been a caseworker for the Department of Social Services (income maintenance) since October of last year. In February, she and her husband submitted an application for food stamp benefits.
Confirmation from the Alamance County Human Resources Director states that the woman earned just under $26,000 a year. Her husband worked for Cox Toyota; a vehicle sales job resulting in a fluctuating income.
According to search warrants from the sheriff’s department, at the time of the couple’s application, the woman allegedly submitted a letter from her husband’s employer. The letter indicated that he had been ill during the months of January and February and earned only $500 in salary. Given this information, and the fact that the couple has three children, they were approved for benefits.
Over the course of the next few months, the couple received over $3,000 in food stamps, as well as $12,000 in Medicaid benefits and $502 in public assistance.
The benefits were subject to review in July, at which time a worker for the Department of Social Services contacted the man’s employer to verify new documentation the woman provided in order to receive continuing benefits. The Department of Social Services was told that the documents were forgeries and that instead of the reported $500; the man had in fact earned around $10,000.
The incident was reported to local police and the woman and her husband were brought up on charges for food stamp fraud, felony welfare fraud, felony Medicaid fraud and common-law robbery. They’re each being held on $15,000 bond.
In the meantime, the case has been put on an investigatory status by the North Carolina Department of Social Services.
If convicted of the charges the couple could face jail time and fines. Either penalty is bad, but is complicated by the fact that the couple still has three minor children living at home. Since the fraud charges the couple is facing are considered felonies, a legal defense advocate that specializes in white-collar crimes could be a useful resource.
Source: The Times News, “Woman charged with benefits fraud works for Social Services,” Roselee Papandrea, July 27, 2011