Fourteen accused in $229,000 child care fraud bust
From the DA’s Office
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe, joined by Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and Susan Sherwood, Commissioner of Social Services, last week in announcing that 14 individuals face charges of illegally obtaining subsidized child care funds. The defendants allegedly fraudulently obtained child care subsidy payments from the Rockland County Department of Social Services by submitting false information to receive the benefits meant to provide child care for needy families. Twelve of the defendants have been formally charged and two are presently being sought.
According to the criminal charges, the 14 defendants – who range in age from 25 to 42 – allegedly falsified applications submitted to the Rockland County Department of Social Services between 2007 and 2011, making it possible for each to receive child care subsidies. The total amount allegedly stolen from taxpayers exceeds $ 229,000.
District Attorney Zugibe said, “These defendants are accused of cheating the system by fraudulently receiving payments from a program designed to provide benefits to the disadvantaged. With so many low-income families truly in need of child care support, my office will aggressively pursue those who use deceit and fraud to feign a need for public benefits.”
County Executive Vanderhoef said, “As a result of the County Department of Social Services ongoing commitment to child care fraud prevention, and detection, and their close partnership with District Attorney Thomas Zugibe’s office, individuals who fraudulently obtain public assistance need to know they face swift and certain prosecution in Rockland County.”
Child care subsidy fraud takes many forms, including concealing true income in order to qualify for the program, falsely representing children in the home eligible for the program when the children are, in fact, living elsewhere and reporting someone as a child care provider when, in fact, that person is not providing child care services.
In one instance, the county paid $3,642 to help defray day care costs for Barbara Jordan, 25, and Dion Wilfong, 30, of 175 Fred Hecht Drive, Spring Valley, New York. The defendants allegedly scammed the system by claiming that Wilfong was an uncle to his own child in order for him to obtain DSS payments for watching the child.
The defendants are variously charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class “D” Felony and Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree, a class “D” Felony. (See Addendum for further details) If convicted, they each face up to four years in prison.
The countywide sweep of alleged fraudsters is the result of a one-year, $60,000 Child Care Fraud Prevention and Detection Incentive Program Grant from the New York State Office for Children and Family Services. (OCFS)
Some of the defendants accused of stealing child care subsidies were also allegedly receiving food stamps and other public assistance to which they were not entitled.
Child care fraud may exist when an applicant for, or recipient of, child care services deliberately provides the County Department of Social Services with false or incomplete information or omits information on such data as household composition, household income, the need for child care services, address, etc. to receive or retain child care services to which they are not legally entitled to receive.
Child care fraud may also exist when a provider of child care services deliberately falsifies or alters attendance records to mark a child present who is not and bills the Department of Social Services for services not rendered; shares child care subsidy monies with the recipient; and/or charges the Department of Social Services more when caring for a child whose family receives a child care subsidy than the provider charges members of the general public.
“Child care subsidy funding is limited,” said Susan Sherwood, Commissioner of Social Services. “Every fraudulent dollar spent means there is one less dollar that can go to an increasing number of eligible families who rely on this subsidy so they can go to work.”
Approximately $9 million will be spent on child care subsidies for fiscal year 2013 in Rockland from federal, state and local funding sources. As of December, 2012, there were 714 families receiving subsidies for 1,590 children and approximately 867 eligible families on a waiting list. The waiting list affects income-eligible families earning less than 200% of the poverty level but earning too much to receive Temporary Assistance.
New York’s child care subsidy program is a state-supervised program that’s administered locally by the state’s 58 social services districts. OCFS works with its partners to help identify and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the program.
There are several ways residents can report suspected child care fraud:
E-mail information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax information to 845-364-3169
Mail information to the Rockland County Department of Social Services, Special Investigations Unit, P.O. Box 307, Pomona, NY 10970
Call Information Rockland at 845-364-2020
Residents providing information can remain anonymous.
Child Care Fraud Defendant