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Crawford and Luzerne County Women Get Prison for Welfare Fraud

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 31, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 42-year-old Mary E. Baker, of Meadville, Crawford County, was ordered incarcerated at the Crawford County Correctional Facility by Judge Mark D. Stevens after pleading guilty to felony welfare fraud charges.  Baker illegally received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in excess of $3,100.

Stevens sentenced Baker to 30 days to 12 months, less one day incarceration.  In addition, Baker was given 12 months probation and ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fines.  Baker is also required to perform 25 hours of community service per week for every week she is not gainfully employed for at least 20 hours.  Baker was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.  

36-year-old Devin R. Makarewicz, 36, of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County was ordered incarcerated at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility by Judge David W. Lupas after pleading guilty to felony welfare fraud charges.  Makarewicz illegally received SNAP and medical assistance benefits in excess of $6,000.

Lupas sentenced Makarewicz to 18 to 48 months incarceration.  In addition, Makarewicz was given 12 months probation and ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fines.  Makarewicz was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months. 

The following 19 individuals were also recently prosecuted for fraudulently receiving public assistance benefits:

  • Teresa A. Bamberger, 53, of Chambersburg, Franklin County, received more than $2,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  Bamberger pleaded nolo contendere and was sentenced to 24 months probation, five months electronic monitoring, and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, fines, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Melonia Bond, 34, of Lancaster, Lancaster County, received more than $1,950 in SNAP benefits.  Bond pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Lois A. Daniels, 23, of Zelienople, Butler County, received $600 in SNAP benefits.  Daniels pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months probation, 25 hours community service, and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, fines, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Brenda L. Davis, 28, of Peach Bottom, Lancaster County, received more than $1,000 in SNAP benefits.  Davis pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Lacetta M. Higgs, 58, of Meadville, Crawford County, received more than $2,300 in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and SNAP benefits.  Higgs pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution costs, fees, and fines.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Laquisha Lee, 29, of Erie, Erie County, received more than $1,750 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits.  Lee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution and court costs.  She was disqualified from receiving cash assistance benefits for a period of six months and SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months. 
  • Amy M. Lewis, 34, of Pittston, Luzerne County, received more than $11,500 in medical assistance and SNAP benefits.  Lewis pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months home confinement and 60 months probation.  Lewis was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Randall G. Madden, 45, of Saxton, Bedford County, received more than $4,450 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits.  Madden pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, fines, and fees.  He was disqualified from receiving cash assistance benefits for a period of six months and SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months. 
  • Brooke N. Miller, 24, of Connellsville, Fayette County, received $1,350 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits.  Miller pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving cash assistance benefits for a period of six months and SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months. 
  • Frances L. Mitchell, 24, and Nathan R. Mitchell, 27, both of Ephrata, Lancaster County, received more than $1,600 in SNAP benefits.  The Mitchells pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 12 months probation.  They were ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees and were disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Mikki Y. Phillips, 35, of Red Lion, York County, received more than $3,850 in SNAP benefits.  Phillips pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Kristian G. Rivera, 24, of Lancaster, Lancaster County, received more than $1,250 in SNAP benefits.  Rivera pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Kenneth Rowe, 26, of Williamsport, Lycoming County, received more than $1,950 in SNAP benefits.  Rowe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 months probation, and was ordered to pay full restitution.  He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Jennifer L. Spangler, 41, of Ephrata, Lancaster County, received more than $1,100 in SNAP benefits.  Spangler pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay full restitution and court costs.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Tobias S. Stanford, 39, Lancaster, Lancaster County, received more than $1,200 in SNAP benefits.  Stanford pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Patrick A. Stidham, 23, of Hanover, York County, received more than $2,150 in SNAP benefits.  Stidham pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 months probation, 150 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay full restitution and court costs.  He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Jennifer Tyme, 36, of Spring Brook Township, Lackawanna County, received more than $1,550 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits.  Tyme pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees.  She was disqualified from receiving cash assistance benefits for a period of six months and SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
  • Michele M. White, 40, of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, received more than $44,500 in Subsidized Child Care (SCC).  White pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years probation and ordered to pay full restitution and court costs.  She was disqualified from receiving SCC benefits for a period of six months.
  • Steven M. Wiest, 51, of Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, received more than $1,100 in SNAP benefits.  Wiest pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay full restitution and court costs.  He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.

"These individuals were convicted of defrauding the commonwealth of more than $96,000 of taxpayer dollars that could have been used to help others who truly need assistance.  Only those citizens who qualify for benefits should receive them," Inspector General Michael A. Sprow said. 

The Office of Inspector General's Bureau of Fraud Prevention and Prosecution is responsible for investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities for programs administered by, or contracted through, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). 

The Office of Inspector General works with DPW's county assistance offices statewide to identify suspected cases of public assistance fraud and with local district attorneys to bring the cases to prosecution. 

Those found guilty of welfare fraud could face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000, mandatory restitution, and program disqualification.

The Office of Inspector General also relies on tips from concerned citizens. To report suspected fraud, call the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582. Callers may remain anonymous.

Visit the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General online at www.oig.state.pa.us.

Media contact: James H. Timko, 717-787-6835

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General

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