Thirty-six charged with stealing public assistance benefits

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— Thirty-six people were charged June 26 with welfare fraud and grand larceny for illegally obtaining more than $337,000 in public assistance benefits administered through the Orange County Department of Social Services, according to District Attorney David M. Hoovler.

Of the sum alleged to have been fraudulently obtained, $131,7784 was paid to recipients for day care benefits issued as a result of fraudulent statements made by those recipients and others acting in concert with them. Another $81,374 was paid to those who fraudulently obtained Supplemental Nutritional Assistant Payments (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps. It is alleged that $62,341 in interim Public Assistance Benefits distributed to recipients through debit cards was fraudulently obtained. These investigations revealed that $62,190 in fraudulent Medicaid payments were paid to these defendants.

The biggest alleged offenders are as follows:

Natasha Brenton, 35, and her mother, Dorothy Faison, 66, both of Newburgh, were each charged by an Orange County Grand Jury, in a 284-count indictment, with welfare fraud in the second degree and grand larceny in the second degree. In addition, Brenton was charged with 141 counts each of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and falsifying business records in the first degree. Faison was charged with 132 counts each of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and falsifying business records in the first degree. It is alleged that the defendants stole $64,239 in day care benefits after Brenton falsely alleged she was working hours that required her mother to take care of her children. Faison submitted false time records purporting to show that she had provided day care services for her daughter.

Kelly Graham, 36, of Middletown was indicted by an Orange County Grand Jury and charged with welfare fraud in the third degree, grand larceny in the third degree, as well as six counts each of falsifying business records in the first degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. It is alleged that Graham stole $41,540 in day care benefits by failing to report that her child’s father, who was employed, was living in the household.

Kadeen Tate, 33, of Newburgh was charged by an Orange County Grand Jury with welfare fraud in the third degree and grand larceny in the third degree, as well as 10 counts each of falsifying business records in the first degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree for stealing $22,873.97 in public assistance benefits. It is alleged that Tate falsely obtained day care benefits, SNAP benefits, and Medicaid benefits by concealing the fact that she was receiving income using her cousin’s name and Social Security number.

The Grand Jury also indicted Tasha Frazier, 29, of New Windsor for stealing $13,010.87 by concealing that she had assets that rendered her ineligible for the amount of Public Assistance she was receiving. Frazier is charged with welfare fraud in the third degree, grand larceny in the third degree and three counts each of falsifying business records in the first degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

“Hardworking taxpayers deserve better than to have their money go to fraudsters and criminals abusing our social services system,” said County Executive Steve Neuhaus. “My administration will aggressively pursue fraud cases from Middletown to Monroe, Woodbury to Wallkill, and everywhere in between."

The enforcement action was the result of collaboration between the Orange County Department of Social Services Investigations Unit, the Sheriff’s Office, and the District Attorney’s Office.

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