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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23592
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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I'm being charged with welfare fraud of food stamps. I

Customer Question

I'm being charged with welfare fraud for collection of food stamps. I changed residences moving in with my boy friend but he had next to no income at the time and the bills went from 600 monthly to 1800 for the mortgage.I had serve medical issues and was in and out of the hospital so I didnt report the change right away knowing I would just get more benefits.
I had a investigator come because of not adding my boyfriend to the case.The investigator told me they would figure out the amount of over issuance based on the correct bills. In which when I reported correctly, doubled my monthly benefit, and I would have actually be due more money and not have an over issuance. They left the bills at 600 and reported income from unemployment that I have proof stopped months earlier and said I have an over issuance. Is there any codes or laws that says they have to base an over payment on the correct bills and correct income? If so which are they ? I'm trying to fight this and prove I never received an over payment .The DA is saying its based on my application and the correct bills dont matter.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 8 months ago.

Hello,

Actually, what the law says is that YOU have to use true and accurate information in order to collect these benefits and that if that information changes you are required to change that information. If you don't, that's evidence of fraud.

From there, they can charge you, which apparently they have done, and your remedy would be to retain a criminal defense lawyer and fight the case, all the way to trial if necessary. You can show your lawyer the information you have which would show that the government actually owes you and not the other way around. You could show that your unemployment had stopped, and explain why you didn't add your boyfriend to your residence information. All of these facts would go to try and show that you had no intent to defraud the government and owe them no money. If the DA cannot prove intentional fraud beyond a reasonable doubt, you could not be convicted of this crime.

Otherwise, the typical penalty for this is probation and restitution to the government. If you wer looking to dispose of it with a plea agreement, although you'd get a payment plan to return the overpayment, you'd typially be able to avoid jail or prison.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hi I'm looking for any laws or codes that says how they calculate the over issuance. The DA is saying that it doesn't matter that the figures are wrong. The investigator told me it would be calculated based on my correct info . So I'm trying to find to show the amount wasn't calculated correctly based on the usual standards
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 8 months ago.

The DA is correct. You can be charged with fraud whether their figures are wrong or right, because you did not give them accurate information. The figures do matter, of course, as to how much if anything you owe, but it doesn't excuse you from not disclosing the fact that you moved in with your boyfriend who was, in fact, drawing some income.

California explains how they calculate your benefits here.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I get the fruad part for not updating the info. It's the amount owed that there's an issue. The DA said he would be willing to change it if I prove they didn't calculate it correctly. But the DA says they calculate it of off the orginal application not the correct bills. Which isn't what I was promised by the investigator.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 8 months ago.

For purposes of the criminal case, the DA deals with the information on the application you submitted. For purposes of your defense, you would calculate the payments based on what you should have but didn't submit and use your results to show that you never intended to defraud the government.