Delaware County Recovers $60,821 in Welfare Fraud Case

Delaware County District Attorney John Hubbard today announced the recovery of Public Assistance Benefits in excess of $60,000.00. Heather Becker and her husband Fred Becker, of Sidney, NY made payment of $61,821.21 to the Delaware County Department of Social Services and they were each further disqualified from receiving public benefits. This recovery is the result of a lengthy investigation by the Delaware County Department of Social Services Fraud Investigations Unit. The investigation revealed that over the course of five years, Heather Becker submitted written documents to the Department of Social Services in which she failed to report her household income in its entirety, and as a result, received SNAP and Medicaid benefits to which she was not entitled.
This prosecution was the result of an investigation conducted by DSS investigators. DSS investigators referred the case to my office for prosecution after they determined that the Beckers had rental income from multiple properties, along with other liquid assets of over 1.8 million dollars.
District Attorney Hubbard stated, “This is an egregious case of welfare fraud, based upon the large amount of the defendants’ unreported income. We were able to determine that the defendants owned, mortgage free, at least six rental properties in Delaware County alone. They attempted to conceal such a substantial amount of income from DSS in an effort to get public assistance benefits designed to assist truly impoverished individuals.”
This is the latest recovery of taxpayer money from those who fraudulently obtained Welfare benefits in Delaware County. District Attorney Hubbard stated, “We have recovered over $380,000.00 so far this year. That amount has actually been restored to Delaware County, and does not include other cases in which the defendants have been convicted of welfare fraud and ordered to pay restitution.
“We will continue to prosecute this fraudulent activity, in an effort to ensure that money isn’t diverted from programs designed to help the needy,” District Attorney Hubbard stated.
The District Attorney’s office will continue to work in partnership with the Department of Social Services to ensure the integrity of public assistance programs. If you would like to report Welfare Fraud to the Delaware County Department of Social Services, please contact the Welfare Fraud Hotline at (607) 832-5404.

Lewis County – 13 Arrested for Welfare Fraud

LOWVILLE — According to an Oct. 2 report from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, 13 individuals have been arrested on welfare fraud and other charges. The total amount associated with these arrests is $25,694.05.

Through an investigation conducted in conjunction with the Lewis County Department Of Social Services Fraud Unit, the Sheriff’s Department have arrested the following individuals who were arraigned in either the Village of Lowville Court or Town of Lowville Court on their respective arrest dates and released to await further court proceedings:

Sept. 21: Krista Wenstrom, 33, Lowville, two counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud; Rachel Leonard, 27, Utica, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud

Sept. 23: Jessica Dean, 24, Carthage, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; third degree grand larceny, third degree welfare fraud; Brynna Hutteman-Kall, 27, Watertown, fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud
Sept. 24: Erica Landrum, 30, Glenfield, third degree grand larceny, third degree welfare fraud; Corey Baxter, 35, Glenfield, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; third degree grand larceny, third degree welfare fraud
Sept. 25: Amber Hannibal, 30, Forestport, seven counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud; Alysa Ortlieb, 35, Lowville, two counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud; Jennifer Gilbert, 37, Fonda, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud

Sept. 26: Andrea Cullop, 34, Lowville, two counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud
Oct. 1: Jennifer Chaprnan, 37, Lyons Faus, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud; Timothy Carman, 38, Lyons Falls, fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud; Jennifer Cook, 45, Lowville, fourth degree grand larceny, fourth degree welfare fraud.

Food Truck Fraud – over several counties including Cattaragaus, Allegany, Steuben and Monroe.

U.S. Attorneys » Western District of New York » News
U.S. Attorney’s Office – Western District of New York

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Buffalo Man Sentenced For Stealing Thousands Of Dollars In Food Stamps

ROCHESTER, N.Y. U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that David Sobczyk, 43, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution totaling $82,066. He also forfeited $33,991.41.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who handled the case, stated that between May 2015 and April 2017, the defendant conspired with co-conspirator Paul Carroll and others to commit food stamp fraud.

Congress established the Federal Food Stamp Program in 1977 to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. In 2008, the program was renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP program), which uses federal tax dollars to subsidize low-income households, helping low-income individuals and families to maintain more nutritious diets by increasing the food purchasing power of eligible households. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers the SNAP program through retail food stores or food truck delivery business (FTDB) that have been approved for participation in the SNAP program to sell food in exchange for the SNAP program benefits.

A business that accepts the SNAP program benefits must do so only in connection with retail sales of eligible food products, and must be authorized by FNS as a retail food store or FTDB. According to USDA regulations, most edible items, except for prepared foods, vitamins and medicines, are eligible for purchase with food stamp benefits. Items such as beer, cigarettes, paper goods, soaps and detergents are ineligible for purchase with food stamp benefits. It is also against the SNAP program regulations to allow customers to pay for merchandise on credit with EBT SNAP/food stamps. Federal law specifies that a purchase made utilizing the SNAP program benefits must be tax exempt. Food stamp benefits may not lawfully be exchanged for cash.

In 1991, co-conspirator Paul Carroll applied to FNS and received authorization to operate a business, Carroll Services, which received the SNAP program benefits. Carroll Services operated a FTDB. In November 2015, the defendant applied to FNS and received authorization to operate a business, Sobczyk Services, which received the SNAP program benefits. Sobczyk Services operated a FTDB.

Contrary to the policies governing the administration of the SNAP program benefits, Sobczyk operated his FTDB as a “for credit” operation, whereby he allowed beneficiaries to purchase items from him “on credit.” He did so by obtaining from the beneficiaries their identifying information, including their EBT card number, PIN number, and social security number. Thereafter, he would cause funds to be deducted from the beneficiaries’ SNAP benefits accounts on the date that the benefits were available on the beneficiaries’ EBT cards.

Paul Carroll provided the defendant with the vehicle to use for his FTDB and was paid by the defendant monthly for the vehicle, knowing that the defendant was operating his FTDB as a “for credit” operation contrary to program policies.

Using the 1-800 number provided by the USDA’s NYS Customer Help line, Sobczyk would direct his employees to manipulate the USDA’s telephonic system in order to identify food stamp beneficiaries’ card numbers in order for the defendant to use the cards to make false claims to FNS in order to deduct food stamp benefits from the beneficiaries.

Paul Carroll was previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in Charge Bethanne M. Dinkins; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Monroe County Department of Social Services, under the direction of Commissioner Corinda Crossdale; and the New York State Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro