Delaware County – April 10, 2019
By Lillian Browne
DELHI – Two Deposit residents avoided a jury trial scheduled for Monday, April 8, by pleading guilty to welfare fraud charges in Delaware County Court on Friday, April 5.
Jennifer H. Giacalone, 31, and Christopher Mills, 29, as part of a negotiated plea and sentencing deal, admitting to bilking taxpayers by submitting false statements and failing to disclose information to the Delaware County Department of Social Services (DSS) and receiving SNAP (foodstamps), Medicaid, and day care assistance that they were not entitled to.
The pair were charged as codefendants with 10 felony charges of first-degree offering false instruments for filing and two felony charges of third-degree welfare fraud. Both were charged with failing to disclose that Mills was living with Giacalone, and they both benefitted from taxpayer funded social services from June 2016 through July 2018, lying on Medicaid, SNAP, child care assistance and renewal applications filed with DSS.
The pair were offered a plea and sentence deal at which they each pled guilty to a reduced charge of fifth-degree welfare fraud, a class A misdemeanor, requiring them to jointly reimburse DSS for $39,482.74.
Giacalone and Mills both paid a portion of the restitution on Friday, and will be required to make payments toward the remaining balance as a condition of a 3-year probation sentence.
The couple improperly received $1,318.70 in food stamps, $12,244.94 in Medicaid benefits, and $25,919 in day care assistance.
District Attorney John Hubbard said the plea and sentence deal is appropriate in that it results in taxpayers being reimbursed for the illegally obtained benefits while keep the couple out of prison. The pair are both employed and have young children at home, Hubbard said.
The two are at liberty, released on their own recognizance having bail exonerated to be applied toward restitution, awaiting sentencing scheduled for June 3.