I’ve been writing Fraud of the Day for over a year now – long enough to have chronicled a case about a jet-setting, millionaire couple accused of welfare fraud from the beginning of the investigation to the guilty plea. So, it only seems appropriate to write about the sentencing.
The NYDailyNews.com reported that a Seattle couple will move from their lakeside mansion, to a home behind bars. (Many people tend to “downsize” as they get older; although, they will not get boat-docking privileges in jail.) The fraudulent couple, having pleaded guilty to charges of welfare fraud, will spend the next 18 months each behind bars, for receiving $261,703 in a long-running fraud targeting rent subsidies, food stamps and medical benefits. A prosecutor in the case stated: “Persons who defraud social programs are commonly impoverished people who engage in fraud to marginally improve a desperate living situation.” So what was in it for a couple owning diamond rings, earrings and boats? (I’d be willing to say the couple may have been categorized as “greedy in nature”.)
Prosecutors called the crime egregious. The couple managed to make their way through long waiting lists of individuals who actually needed assistance. This couple cashed in on the assistance when it clearly wasn’t needed. Their success in fraud was based on the false impressions painted by the couple, posing the wife as a single mother, living in the home and paying rent to the landlord, her husband. In a last minute attempt to diminish the prison sentence, the couple pleaded for leniency, claiming depression and anxiety. (I’d be depressed too, if I was moving from a big house to “the big house.”)
Sometimes life dishes out hard lessons and we find ourselves wondering: “Why must I learn this?” In this case, the couple brought the lesson upon themselves. It’s not rocket science – commit fraud in diamonds, dawn detention stripes.