Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Monsey - 3 Orthodox Jews Arrested for Medicaid fraud
continuing Rockland County crackdown on welfare fraud resulted in the arrests of 10 more people on accusations of filing false documentation to get more than $42,000 in state and federal social service benefits administered through the county government.
Most of those charged — including two married couples — face charges of of third-degree grand larceny or third-degree welfare fraud. Both felony charges carry a prison sentence ranging from 1 1/3 to seven years in prison, along with probation and restitution.
In previous cases during the past four years, the Rockland District Attorney’s Office has pressed for
restitution of pilfered funds from dozens of people, as opposed to prison sentences. Prosecutors also sought probationary sentences and some jail terms.
Rooting out fraud helps ensure the integrity of the programs and those who legally qualify for social services, whether it’s food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment, and other programs, authorities said.
“Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits are all finite resources of critical importance,” District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said Tuesday. “These individuals not only cheated the system, but also cheated law-abiding Rockland County taxpayers who play by the rules.
The 10 people were arrested following an investigation by the Rockland Special Investigations Unit, with assistance from the Rockland Social Services Department, the state Labor Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General.
The collaboration began after Zugibe took office in January 2008, starting with more than 40 arrests and an offer of amnesty for those who admitted fraud and paid back the money. Few people took advantage of the amnesty offer in 2008. Officials estimated up to 70 people have been arrested since.
In the latest investigation, the 10 people charged are accused of concocting various schemes to steal welfare benefits, including underreporting income, concealing either home or business ownership or both, using false names and bogus Social Security information, and providing misleading household composition.
Astrel Auborg, 50, and her husband, Georges Falaise, 48, of 50 Springbrook Road, Nanuet, each charged with third-degree grand larceny in the theft of $6,569.
John Corry, 58, of 199 Goebel Road, New City, with third-degree grand larceny in the theft of $3,146.
Michael Lafuentes, 32, of 9 Overlook Road, New City, with third-degree welfare fraud in the theft of $6,743.
Chana Landau, 33, and her husband, Israel Landau, 37, both of 63 Carlton Road, Monsey, each charged with third-degree welfare fraud in the theft of $3,513.
Corwin Moore, 39, of 110 Union Road, Apt. 1E, Spring Valley, with fourth-degree grand larceny in the theft of $2,002.
Naftali Wagschal, 29, of 6 Horizon Court, Monsey, with third-degree welfare fraud in the theft of $4,167.
Jonathan Desvarieux, 24, of 311 N. Main St., Spring Valley, with third-degree grand larceny in the theft of $12,887.
Angela Smartt, 44, of 5 George St., Apt. 5, Spring Valley, with third-degree grand larceny in the theft of $3,516.
The latest arrests — with people ranging in age from 24 to 58 and from around the country — involves accusations of theft from $2,002 to $12,887 between 2008 and 2011.
Zugibe said that in one case, Jonathan Desvarieux, 24, of 311 N. Main St., Spring Valley, is accused of falsely reporting that he was unemployed when recertifying eligibility for Social Services-Medicaid benefits between September 2009 and February 2011.
An investigation revealed that he was working at a Dunkin’ Donuts location in Rockland during the same period, Zugibe said, and received benefits totaling $12,887 to which he was not entitled.