Seven Montgomery County welfare recipients were arrested early this week in a welfare fraud roundup.
Among other things, six of the seven were charged with first-degree offering of a false instrument, a class E felony. In layman’s terms, Investigator Michael J. Villa said, “they lied on an application in order to be eligible for our support.”
Faked employment search forms are one of the most common type of “false instrument.” To stay in the welfare system, recipients must apply for 10 different jobs and send a list of the businesses to social services. The idea is to prove a desire to get out of the system.
Villa said many recipients pick out businesses at random and claim that they filled out an application.
“If someone says they applied for a job at Walmart,” he said, “we follow up with human resources.”
If the HR department at Walmart doesn’t have an application on file, Villa has grounds for an arrest. That happens a lot.
Between 25 and 50 people are arrested on welfare fraud charges in the county every year. “And we’d have more arrests if I had more men,” he said.
None of the seven arrests involved a large sum of money. Mostly they were caught early on. Villa said this many-small-arrests approach to fighting welfare fraud is more effective than concentrating on catching the very few people who have been working the system for years.
“Finding fraud in the early stages saves the county money,” he said.
All seven are due in Mohawk Town Court next week, and will retain their benefits until after their cases are resolved. Most will likely plead guilty and get disqualified from the system for six months to two years depending on the charges. Those who did receive benefits illegally will have to repay them.
James Evans Jr., 45 of 613 Oswegatchie Road, Palatine Bridge; Krista Moore, 25, of 409 Progress Road, Gloversville; Antwan Deloatch, 36, of 51 Vanderveer St., Amsterdam; Stacy Dillenbeck, 28, of 36 Webster St., Fort Plain; Beth Horender, 28, of 11 Old Meadow Road, St. Johnsville; and Helen Emerson, 25, of 2612 State Route 8, Lot 21, West Winfield, were all charged with offering a false instrument for filing.
Emerson and Horender were also charged with third- and fourth-degree welfare fraud, respectively, for allegedly receiving $4,960 and $1,080 in benefits they were not entitled to.
Nichole Smith, 27, of 32 Hancock St., Fort Plain, was charged with fourth-degree welfare fraud for allegedly receiving $1,371 in benefits she was not entitled to.