An Inwood woman deliberately underreported her income to steal more than $200,000 in welfare and housing benefits, prosecutors said Tuesday in announcing her arrest.
Amika Land, 37, who is also known as Amika Simmons, is charged with third-degree welfare fraud, two counts of third-degree grand larceny, and five counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing following her arraignment Monday, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.
Land faces 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison if convicted of the top count against her, Singas said in a statement.
Authorities said that between Feb. 18, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2015, Land received Medicaid, day care, public assistance, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Home Energy Assistance Program benefits totaling $180,868.
Land also received Section 8 housing benefits from the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development totaling $26,628 between Aug. 1, 2011, and July 31, 2015, Singas said.
During that four-year period Land collected benefits, Singas said, the Inwood woman was employed by a medical practice in Nassau, working in the billing department, and had a yearly gross income that ranged between $38,604 and $76,730.
That made her ineligible for benefits, Singas said.
Land “knowingly underreported her household income” by submitting fraudulent letters to county agencies, prosecutors said.
“This defendant allegedly falsified documents to steal more than $200,000 in government benefits that were earmarked for struggling families,” Singas said in her statement Tuesday.
Land was released on recognizance and ordered to return to First District Court on Dec. 5.
Attorney Michael DerGarabedian, who represents Land, said he hoped “the public reserves its decision” until all the facts are heard in the case, saying his client was a single mom, raising three children with no outside support. He said that her annual income was not as reported by authorities.
“This is a good woman,” he said.