The four defendants are accused of stealing approximately $72,000 in unauthorized benefits
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced the arrests of four men who are accused of falsely collecting approximately $72,000 in shelter benefits from the Nassau County Department of Social Services.
Anthony Carter, 24, of Mastic, Joseph Gioe, 53, of East Rockaway, Freeman Cox, 47, of Hempstead, and Anthony Williams, 50, of Roosevelt have been charged with Welfare Fraud in the 3rd Degree (a D felony), Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree (a D felony) and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 3rd Degree (an A misdemeanor). Cox is additionally charged with Welfare Fraud in the 4th Degree (an E felony) and Grand Larceny in the 4th degree (an E felony). If convicted of the top count, the defendants face up to 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison.
“Those who abuse shelter benefits steal from taxpayers and compromise essential services for families who need a roof over their head during hard times,” DA Singas said. “These defendants allegedly submitted bogus receipts and pocketed unauthorized reimbursements and we will aggressively prosecute them.”
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano stated, “Hats off to Social Services Commissioner Dr. John Imhof and his team for working hard to protect our taxpayers. Together with the District Attorney’s office, we are aggressively rooting out fraudulent Medicaid claims.”
DSS Commissioner John E. Imhof noted that, “The overwhelmingly vast majority of individuals who require and qualify for DSS assistance comply honestly with the benefit requirements. Regretfully, there are those who seek to acquire benefits through criminal means; however, our capacity to apprehend those who attempt to defraud the system is stronger than ever. Our social service investigators will continue working towards identifying abuses and continuing our excellent relationship with the DA’s office.”
A review of documents submitted to the Department of Social Services by the defendants revealed several “unusual looking” receipts. An investigation by DSS concluded that the receipts submitted by the four individuals were allegedly fraudulent because they were either fabricated or doctored. The allegedly doctored receipts had amounts and dates changed to make it appear that the clients stayed at the hotel, when they had not. In some cases, the amount was allegedly changed on the receipt to gain more money from DSS than the amount the hotel charged. After it was discovered that four homeless clients’ receipts were allegedly falsified, DSS referred the case to the NCDA.
DSS is responsible for providing shelter benefits to those who represent a need. If shelter arrangements cannot be made, DSS clients receive money for hotel stays from the agency on what is the equivalent to an Electronic Benefit Card (EBT). It is the policy of the NCDA, as part of the disposition of these cases, to require all DSS clients who are accused of fraudulently obtaining benefits to pay back the full amount they are accused of stealing.
Anthony Carter is accused of allegedly altering motel receipts he submitted to DSS to reflect a higher rate than he was paying and receiving $16,359.45 in shelter benefits to which he was not entitled from July 21, 2014 through March 21, 2016. Carter was arrested March 3 and is represented by the Legal Aid Society. He is due back in court May 4.
Joseph Gioe allegedly altered motel receipts he submitted to DSS to reflect a higher rate than he was paying and received $30,716.78 in shelter benefits to which he was not entitled from June 18, 2015 through March 30, 2016. Gioe was arrested February 28 and is represented by David Falkner, Esq. He is due back in court April 27.
Freeman Cox allegedly altered motel receipts he submitted to DSS to reflect a higher rate than he was paying and received $12,600.00 in shelter benefits to which he was not entitled three separate times: from October 23, 2014 through November 19, 2014; March 19, 2015 through April 9, 2015; and May 29, 2015 through August 26, 2015. Cox was arrested March 6, 2017 and is represented by the Legal Aid Society. He is due back in court March 22.
Defendant Anthony Williams allegedly altered motel receipts he submitted to DSS to reflect a higher rate than he was paying and received $12,386.69 in shelter benefits to which he was not entitled two separate times: from September 25, 2013 through September 23, 2014 and November 27, 2015 through May 18, 2016. Williams was arrested February 28, 2017 and is represented by Michael Diamond, Esq. He is due back in court May 11.
Arrest warrants have been issued for two other people that are accused of defrauding DSS.
ADAs Heidi Bausk and Michelle Prior of DA Singas’ Economic Crimes Bureau are prosecuting these defendants. The District Attorney thanked the Nassau County Department of Social Services for their work bringing these cases.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.