It was reported on Sept. 24 that 11 people who were accused of taking advantage of welfare agencies in Pennsylvania were sentenced in August. It appeared that the individuals illegally received assistance from multiple welfare agencies including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, cash assistance and Subsidized Day Care.
The 11 accused individuals were reportedly from different cities within Pennsylvania. The amount in SNAP benefits, SDC or cash assistance that were reportedly illegally received by the individuals ranged from $1,000 to $27,500. All 11 individuals were sentenced to probation and community service. In addition, all accused individuals were ordered by the court to pay full restitution and any court costs, fines and fees. Further, all individuals were disqualified from being able to receive benefits for the next 12 months.
The state of Pennsylvania provides assistance in order to improve their residents' quality of life. Due to limitations, only those who are earning under a certain amount of income are qualified to receive benefits from the state. If a person lies to get benefits, it may be considered fraud.
A criminal law attorney may potentially be able to create a strong defense for someone who has been accused of committing fraud. In the case of alleged welfare fraud, the attorney may be able to provide evidence that the accused person was eligible to receive benefits during the period those benefits were provided. Evidence may include any tax returns or other financial documents that show the person's income during the period that they were receiving benefits. Otherwise, the attorney can potentially negotiate a sentence that allows the accused person to pay a certain amount of restitution for the benefits that were received and probation in exchange for a potential prison sentence.
Source: WGAL, "11 Sentenced for welfare fraud", September 24, 2014