Area residents among dozens guilty of welfare fraud

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Twenty-two Pennsylvania residents pleaded guilty to welfare fraud and/or were sentenced for their crimes during August, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced today.

“The commonwealth is committed to helping those who truly need public assistance.  Individuals who cheat the welfare system take away funds from Pennsylvanians in need,” Inspector General Michael A. Sprow said.

The following individuals were prosecuted and sentenced for fraudulently receiving public assistance benefits:

  • Raymond Aponte, 60, of Bushkill, Pike County, received more than $1,950 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  Aponte is required to seek drug and alcohol counseling and was ordered to pay restitution, costs and fines. He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Christopher W. Benko, 26, of McKees Rocks, Allegheny County, received more than $1,900 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits. Benko was sentenced to one year probation and was ordered to pay restitution.  He was disqualified from receiving cash assistance for a period of six months and SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Justin J. Billet, 32, of York, York County, received more than $2,900 in SNAP benefits.  Billet was sentenced to four years probation, must complete 50 hours of community service and was ordered to pay restitution and costs.  He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Kelly A. Cerklefski, 25, of Dornsife, Northumberland County, received more than $7,850 in SNAP benefits. Cerklefski was sentenced to two years probation and was ordered to pay restitution, costs and fines. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Ebony M. Copeland, 37, and Keith B. Baynes, 40, both of Homestead, Allegheny County, received more than $89,850 in subsidized child care assistance. They were sentenced to 15 years probation and ordered to pay restitution. Copeland was disqualified from receiving subsidized child care assistance for six months.
  • Madonna L. Crossland, 45, of Perryopolis, Fayette County, received more than $950 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits. Crossland was sentenced to one year probation and was ordered to pay restitution, costs and fines. She was disqualified from receiving cash assistance for six months and SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Michael R. Elliott, 55, of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, received more than $2,000 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits. Elliott was sentenced to two years probation and was ordered to pay costs and restitution. He was disqualified from receiving cash assistance for six months and SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Frankie E. Ellison, 40, of Lancaster, Lancaster County, received more than $2,000 in cash assistance and SNAP Benefits. Ellison was ordered to pay restitution. He was disqualified from receiving cash assistance for a period of six months and SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Richard J. Haas, 40, of Gibsonia, Allegheny County, received more than $1,450 in SNAP benefits. Hass was sentenced to 18 months probation and was ordered to pay restitution. He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Venessa L. Haddock, 28, of Lancaster, Lancaster County received more than $2,200 in cash assistance. Haddock was ordered to pay restitution and costs.  She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for six months.
  • Rebecca Kratochvil, 51, of Uniontown, Fayette County, received more than $900 in SNAP Benefits. Kratochvil was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Vidia C. Landers, 57, of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, received more than $30,800 in cash, SNAP, medical assistance, and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program benefits. Landers was ordered to pay restitution.
  • William C. Miller, 42, New Brighton, Beaver County, received more than $1,850 in Special Allowance SNAP benefits. Miller was ordered to pay restitution.
  • Sherry L. Mitchell, 42, of Shermans Dale, Perry County, received more than $1,750 in SNAP benefits. Mitchell was sentenced to one year probation and was ordered to pay restitution and costs. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Trish L. Moore, 43, of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, received more than $4,100 in SNAP benefits. Moore was sentenced to two years probation and was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for two years.
  • Tina M. Roman, 34, of Reading, Berks County, received more than $4,300 in SNAP benefits.  Roman was sentenced to two years probation and was ordered to pay restitution and costs. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Mathew A. Seville, 28, of McConnellsburg, Fulton County, received more than $1,150 in SNAP benefits. Seville was sentenced to two years probation was ordered to pay restitution. He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Jason A. Seybert, 35, of Warren, Warren County, received more than $2,950 in SNAP benefits. Seybert was sentenced to two years probation, ordered to perform 75 hours of community service, required to seek drug and alcohol counseling and was ordered to pay restitution, costs and fines. He was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.
  • John C. Walton, 26, of Lititz, Lancaster County, received more than $2,850 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits. Walton was ordered to pay restitution.  He was disqualified from receiving cash assistance for six months and SNAP benefits for one year.
  • Jennifer Wheeler, 41, of Darby, Delaware County, received more than $3,200 in cash assistance.  Wheeler was sentenced to five years probation, ordered to pay restitution and to perform 56 hours of community service. She was disqualified from receiving cash assistance for six months.
  • Kori L. Wilson, 26, of Mercer County, received more than $16,500 in SNAP benefits. Wilson was ordered to pay restitution and was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for one year.

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.

2 comments

  • stephanie

    exactly really…pay it back…like that is gonna happen….no wonder people steal from government agencies really "pay it back" and probation or no SNAP money for a year……WOW….nice to know fraud is not a serious crime anymore….

  • Colt357

    These sentences are a joke. 6 months to a year these dirt bags will be sponging off us again and we will never see a dime of restitution. Unless of course they deduct deduct it from future redistributed wealth or so called benefits.
    These people should be barred from receiving any benefits!!! If they have kids take them away. They are not fit to raise children.

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