Office of Inspector General Announces September 2012 Welfare Fraud Adjudications

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Eight Pennsylvania residents pleaded guilty to welfare fraud and/or were sentenced for their crimes during September, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced today.

"Welfare fraud is a crime against all Pennsylvania taxpayers," Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner said.  "Our office works to ensure those who commit this crime are prosecuted and fully reimburse taxpayers."

The following individuals were prosecuted and sentenced for fraudulently receiving public assistance benefits:

  • Lateesha S. Culbreath, 25, of Chester, Delaware County, received more than $1,750 in cash assistance benefits.  Culbreath was sentenced to 2 years probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.
  • Sonia Diaz-Vazquez, 35, of Lemoyne, Cumberland County, received more than $25,200 in subsidized child care benefits.  Diaz-Vazquez was sentenced to 50 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.
  • Kodi G. Little, 30, of Altoona, Blair County, received more than $1,200 in cash assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  Little was ordered to pay full restitution, costs, and fines. 
  • Jennifer M. Rodriguez, 35, of Reading, Berks County, received more than $1,950 in cash assistance benefits.  Rodriguez was sentenced to 5 years probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and fines.
  • Paul Shelgren, 56, of Youngsville, Warren County, received more than $7,350 in cash assistance, medical assistance, and SNAP benefits.  Shelgren was ordered to pay full restitution, costs, and fines.
  • Ashley M. Smith, 29, of Bradford, McKean County, received more than $4,550 in SNAP benefits.  Smith was sentenced to 5-23.5 months incarceration, 300 hours community service and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.
  • Deborah L. Stone, 48, of Williamsport, Lycoming County received more than $1,400 in SNAP benefits.  Stone was sentenced to 1 year probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs. 
  • Teresa E. Younkin, 38, of Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, received more than $2,000 in SNAP benefits.  Younkin was sentenced to 2 years probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and costs.

The Office of Inspector General's Bureau of Fraud Prevention and Prosecution is responsible for investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities for programs administered by, or contracted through, the Department of Public Welfare. 

The Office of Inspector General works with county assistance offices statewide to identify suspected cases of public assistance fraud and with local district attorneys to bring the cases to prosecution. 

Anyone found guilty of welfare fraud could face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000, mandatory restitution, and program disqualification.

The Office of Inspector General also relies on tips from concerned citizens. To report suspected fraud, call the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582. Callers may remain anonymous.

Visit the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General online at www.oig.state.pa.us.

Media contact: Melissa K. Yerges, 717-787-6835

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General



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http://www.oig.state.pa.us

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