Modified: February 9, 2018 8:40am
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn and NYS Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott announce that two defendants have been sentenced in a welfare fraud investigation. In June 2017, three women were accused of collecting food stamps and Medicaid benefits while working as caregivers for an elderly West Seneca woman.
On Thursday, February 8, 50-year-old Suzanne Smith of Buffalo was sentenced by Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case to three years of probation.
In November 2017, Smith pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree. The defendant admitted to lying on her Department of Social Services (DSS) application and re-certification applications, stating that she had no income while being paid to care for the 105-year-old woman. Smith is accused of lying on 12 separate applications to DSS, resulting in $51,462.68 in fraudulent benefits.
On Wednesday, February 7, 44-year-old Kelly Foss of Alden was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia to five years probation. In November 2017, she pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree. Foss received $34,155.00 in SNAP that she was not entitled to receive.
The third defendant, 30-year-old Michelle Dudek of Buffalo, also pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree in December 2017. Dudek collected $21,616.58 in SNAP and Medicaid benefits that she was not entitled to receive.
She is scheduled to be sentenced before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case on Wednesday, February 28 at 9:30 a.m.
Investigators say the total fraud for the three home healthcare aids amounts to $107,234.26. All of the defendants have entered into repayment agreements with the Department of Social Services.
“Public assistance benefits are for those who truly need help paying for food and other basic needs. Despite being employed and earning an income, these women decided to take money from the taxpayers of New York State for their own benefit,” says DA Flynn. “Our office will continue to work hard to make sure the welfare system is operating properly and will prosecute those who abuse that system.”
DA Flynn commends the NYS Inspector General’s Office and the Erie County Department of Social Services for their outstanding investigative work.
Assistant District Attorney Robin J. Deubler of the DA’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau prosecuted these cases.