Prosecutor Cracks Down on Welfare Fraud

3

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 simpl? regret? 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!)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Prosecutor looks to clamp down on welfare fraud,” by Carol Ferguson, published by KBAK/KBFX’s BakersfieldNow.com, November 1, 2011.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — It’s a crime that costs Kern County taxpayers millions of dollars, but do these crooks face real consequences? The crime is welfare fraud, and ripping off that system is a real hot-button issue. Local prosecutors say they won’t let up on cheaters.

Eyewitness News got calls to its tipline with complaints about welfare fraud and discovered its high cost. Then, a viewer called with worries about a fraud case where it looked like the criminal ended up with a slap on the wrist.

Read More