All too often people who are caught committing welfare fraud face few consequences – maybe they are assessed a small fine or do a short stint in jail. According to KBAK/KBFX’s BakersfieldNow.com, at least one prosecutor is cracking down on welfare fraud—Kern County District Attorney Jason Webster.  On the job since January, the article quotes Webster on his dedication to stamping out welfare fraud and increasing sentencing for fraudsters:  “’I’ve been asking for a lot more felonies, I’ve been asking for a lot more prison commitment.’”  (Now, we’re getting somewhere!)

And that’s not all.  Webster is also going after the money.  The article recounts the case of Jane Doe, a woman who allegedly received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits aka Food Stamps and cash aid at the same time she was receiving child support from her children’s father – a fact she failed to report.   She was charged with a felony and offered no more than a year in jail in exchange for a plea.  Then Webster offered another deal:  pay the $8,000 in exchange for a misdemeanor conviction and avoid jail time.  She took the deal and repaid the $8,000.  Webster is quoted as saying, “’She essentially earned it through her actions,’” because she admitted to the offense and demonstrated remorse.  (Yeah…I wonder if she simply  regrets  that she got caught.)

Unfortunately, this case is “one of many.”  The article notes that “experts estimate some 20 percent of welfare cases could involve fraud.”  Kern County lost over $2 million from welfare fraud just in 2011.  Webster is getting tough, but he and the unit in charge of these investigations face a key challenge – the unit has been cut from 20 investigators to five. (Must be run by someone thinking the honor system works.  Fewer investigators?  Duh!)

  1. They cut investigators but add more case workers. Problem is most case workers were educated by welfare so they see nothing wrong with the system as it works. Kind of like having a child watch the cookie jar.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>