Agency recovers money lost to fraud

Officials at the Fulmont Community Action Agency were pleased this month when they received a $3,424

Officials at the Fulmont Community Action Agency were pleased this month when they received a $3,424 check from Mohawk Town Court.

The money reimburses the agency for weatherization services it provided a Johnstown woman in early 2007. She has since pleaded guilty to filing false information in both counties to receive various benefits, including the weatherization.

Agency Executive Director Denis E. Wilson Sr. said recovering the money is important to the agency, which can now provide services to at least one more client.

He said the agency distributes $440,000 a year in weatherization services, which can help about 100 homeowners. But, Wilson said, there is a constant waiting list.

He said the abuse by Deborah Amico, 46, of South Chase Street, Johnstown, was discovered by an alert staffer at the agency. While Amico’s application for services initially was approved, Wilson said application documents are diligently screened for eligibility.

“We do everything we can to ensure the information provided is correct,” he said.

Amico was arrested in December by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department on three counts each of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and obtaining welfare benefits by fraud and on single counts of fifth-degree welfare fraud and petty larceny.

State police, responding to a subsequent complaint from Wilson’s agency, arrested her again in March on counts of first-degree falsification of business records, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and third-degree grand larceny.

Authorities in both counties said Amico failed to disclose on her applications for benefits that she was receiving unemployment insurance checks.

In recent months she pleaded guilty in both Johnstown City Court and Mohawk Town Court to misdemeanor counts of offering false information.

Besides a fine, she was ordered to make restitution and was disqualified from receiving Department of Social Services benefits, said Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira. Montgomery County District Attorney James “Jed” Conboy said Amico was fined $500 in Mohawk Town Court and was given a conditional discharge requiring her to make the restitution to the Fulmont agency.

Sira said Amico received heating assistance and food stamps in Fulton County.

Wilson said while there are income guidelines governing eligibility for weatherization funds, someone already obtaining food stamps and other benefits is usually automatically qualified for weatherization.

The weatherization money is provided by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Fulmont is a subcontractor serving as a conduit for the funding.

Categories: Schenectady County

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