Four men have been charged in connection with an alleged welfare fraud scheme in Nassau County that netted them about $72,000 in shelter benefits, Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas announced Wednesday.
Anthony Carter, 24, of Mastic, Joseph Gioe, 53, of East Rockaway, Freeman Cox, 47, of Hempstead, and Anthony Williams, 50, of Roosevelt were charged with welfare fraud, grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument. Cox is additionally charged with welfare fraud and grand larceny.
Singas announced the arrests in a news release.
“Those who abuse shelter benefits steal from taxpayers and compromise essential services for families who need a roof over their head during hard times,” Singas said in the release. “These defendants allegedly submitted bogus receipts and pocketed unauthorized reimbursements and we will aggressively prosecute them.”
Clients in need who cannot be housed in shelters receive money on a benefit card for hotel stays from the Department of Social Services.
The four men submitted “unusual looking” receipts for hotel stays to the county’s Department of Social Services, and a DSS investigation found they were either fabricated or doctored, Singas said.
Singas explained that the receipts had amounts and dates changed to make it appear that the clients stayed at the hotel when they had not. In some cases, the amount was allegedly changed on the receipt to get more money from DSS than the hotel charged, she said.
“The overwhelmingly vast majority of individuals who require and qualify for DSS assistance comply honestly with the benefit requirements,” Social Services Commissioner John Imhof said in the news release. “Regretfully, there are those who seek to acquire benefits through criminal means; however, our capacity to apprehend those who attempt to defraud the system is stronger than ever.”
Carter is accused of getting $16,359.45 in fraudulent shelter benefits from July 21, 2014, through March 21, 2016. He was arrested on March 3 and is due in court May 4.
Gioe is accused of receiving $30,716.78 from June 18, 2015, through March 30, 2016. He was arrested on Feb. 28 and is due back in court April 27.
Cox allegedly received $12,600 on three separate occasions: from Oct. 23, 2014, through Nov. 19, 2014; March 19, 2015, through April 9, 2015; and May 29, 2015, through Aug. 26, 2015. He was arrested March 6 and is due back in court on March 22.
Williams allegedly obtained $12,386.69 on two separate occasions: from Sept. 25, 2013, through Sept. 23, 2014, and Nov. 27, 2015, through May 18, 2016. He was arrested on Feb. 28 and is due back in court May 11.
Arrest warrants also have been issued for two other people accused of defrauding DSS, the release said.