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Welfare Fraud

Under New York State law, a person engages in welfare fraud when they knowingly, and with intent to defraud, commit fraudulent acts to obtain or take public assistance benefits. These benefits are legally defined as money, property or services that are directly or indirectly provided by the federal or state government and administered by the department of social services or social services districts. They include Medicaid, the food stamp program, financial assistance, housing benefits, and HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program).

Sometimes welfare fraud is perpetrated by individuals or by organized criminal rings in large-scale undertakings. The most common form is to intentionally sign an application for benefits when one knows that the information provided is false.

Common acts that fall under this category include:

  •      Failing to report a member of the same household
  •      Failing to report income
  •      Claiming one or more nonexistent dependents
  •      Providing false information about their ability to work

Welfare Fraud in the Fifth Degree

Welfare Fraud in the Fifth Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, is the base form of this particular offense and punishable by up to one year in jail. It occurs when a person commits a fraudulent welfare act in a deliberate attempt to defraud.

Welfare Fraud in the Fourth Degree

This Class D felony can send you to prison for anywhere between two-and-a-third and seven years. To be found guilty, you must have intentionally committed an act of fraud to receive public assistance benefits worth over $1,000.

Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree

Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree is also a Class D felony that can send you to prison for up to seven years. To be found guilty of this offense, it must be proven that you intentionally committed an act of welfare fraud to obtain public assistance benefits worth more than $3,000.

Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree

Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree is a Class C felony that can result in a five to 15 year prison sentence. If you commit welfare fraud to receive public assistance benefits valued at over $50,000, then you can be charged with this offense.

Welfare Fraud in the First Degree

Welfare Fraud in the First Degree is a class B felony that can send you to prison for up to 25 years. For you to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove that you fraudulently obtained public assistance benefits worth over one million dollars.

Accusations of welfare fraud are serious, and so are the penalties. If you are being investigated or believe you are about to be arrested, call an experienced New York criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will review the charges against you and mount the best possible defense for your situation. Julie Rendelman is a highly experienced New York City criminal defense attorney. She offers free consultations and can be reached at 212-951-1232 or through her website at www.RendelmanLaw.com.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and receipt or viewing does not constitute such relationship.


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