Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t escape where you come from. You have to feel for the people from towns like Boring, Oregon or Hooker, Oklahoma. Places like that just come with a set of expectations. Take the woman from Athol, Massachusetts (say it without the lisp). According to, this upstanding citizen pleaded guilty to falsely claiming $58,000 in food assistance from the Supplemental Nutritional Program and Supplemental Security Income.

This case was uncovered due in part to an investigation that turned up $1.8 million in fraudulent public assistance benefits and services from January to March. (January to March? Can someone get me a cold towel? I need to lie down.) According to the article, the investigation found “401 people who defrauded the state out of welfare, food stamps, child-care services, health care benefits, public housing or cash assistance.” (Oy vey.)

The article quotes the state auditor, who made an important point: “In today’s economic climate, with so many struggling to get by, it is more important than ever to make sure every dollar given in benefits goes to those who are actually in need.” (Is there an echo?) She added: “BSI [Bureau of Special Investigations] oversight identifies millions of dollars in fraud every year.”

Bottom line: it looks like we need to do a better job of keeping Athols out of the system.

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