Welfare fraud refers to the intentional misuse of the state welfare system by falsifying information on your application or withholding information. This is done by individuals as well as organized crime rings. If you are ever accused of welfare fraud, the first thing you should do is to contact a defense attorney immediately, as they may be your only line of defense against heavy financial penalties and in some cases prison.
Some common types of welfare fraud are:
- Failing To Report Income
- Claiming Non-Existant Dependants
- Falsifying Ability To Work
- Signing Documents You Know Contain False Statements
- Failing To Report Household Members
The welfare system includes financial benefits, food benefits, home energy assistance, housing assistance, medical assistance and other assistance from programs meant to support families and individuals unable to support themselves without the State’s help.
A common form of fraud which large groups participate in, known as organized rings, is food stamp fraud by selling state benefits given through Electronic Benefits Transfer Cards (EBT) for cash, drugs or other illegal items. This is detected most of the time by banking institutions who file suspicious activity reports which involve cash withdrawals on accounts that have large EBT balances.
The New York State Office of the Welfare Inspector General is usually the authority who prosecutes welfare fraud cases. They may also refer a fraud case to other local authorities or prosecutors and only an attorney can advise you depending on the details of your particular case, what penalties you might be facing and what can be done to defend the charge against you.
The following New York Laws apply to welfare fraud:
- Welfare Fraud in the First Degree: New York Penal Law § 158.25Intentionally commits a fraudulent welfare act, and the value of the benefits received was over $1,000,000Class B Felony
- Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law § 158.20Intentionally commits a fraudulent welfare act and the value of the benefits exceeds $50,000Class C Felony
- Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law § 158.15Intentionally commits a fraudulent welfare act and the value of benefits exceeds $3,000Class D Felony
- Welfare Fraud in the Fourth Degree: New York Penal Law § 158.10Intentionally commits a fraudulent welfare act and the value of benefits exceeds $1,000Class E Felony
- Welfare fraud in the Fifth Degree: New York Penal Law § 158.05Intentionally commits a fraudulent welfare act and thereby takes or obtains public assistance benefitsClass A Misdemeanor
Class A Misdemeanor:
Carries a sentence of up to 1 year in jail.
Class B Felony:
Carries a minimum prison sentence of 1-3 years and a maximum of 8 1/3-25 years.
If a person has a prior felony conviction within 10 years of the new felony, the minimum sentence for incarceration is 4 1/2-9 years and a maximum of 12 1/2-25 years, however, regardless of any past or present felony conviction, a person will be placed on parole for a period of between 1 and 3 years after release from incarceration.
Class C Felony:
Carries no mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of 5-15 years in prison
If a person has a prior felony conviction within 10 years of the new felony, the minimum period of incarceration is 3-6 years and a maximum of 7 1/2-15 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after release.
Class D Felony:
Carries no mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of 2 1/3-7 years in prison.
If a person has a prior felony conviction within 10 years of the new felony, the minimum period of incarceration is 2-4 years and the maximum 3 1/2-7 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after release. ¹
In addition to any jail or prison time, the State will require you to pay back to the last cent, any monies owed to them due to the fraud, and they can garnish any future employment earnings and possibly more, to ensure the debt is repaid.
Welfare fraud is a serious legal matter that can affect you for years to come and threaten your liberty. It is in your best interest to contact a New York City attorney if you have been accused of welfare fraud.
The Spodek Law Group are experts at defending their clients’ rights and freedom and are available 24 hours, 7 days a week, to answer your calls. The attorneys at Spodek Law Group are consulted by major news affiliates and are nationally recognized criminal defense attorneys. We will work hard for you and won’t leave your side until your case is resolved. Call us today for a free consultation.
New York Consolidated Laws, Penal Law, Find Law (2017), http://codes.findlaw.com/us/
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