Three Suffolk County residents were arrested and charged with committing welfare fraud after they allegedly stole more than $197,000 combined in public assistance benefits from the county Department of Social Services, officials said Saturday.
Authorities allege that Mohammed U. Farooq of Dix Hills, Rhonda Quick of Coram and Chaniesa Simmons of Central Islip failed to report thousands of dollars in income and received large sums of money in benefits, including Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, according to a news release by the Suffolk County district attorney's office.
"It is the theft of taxpayer dollars, and it is theft from people who are truly in need," District Attorney Timothy Sini said in the release. Sini partnered with the county social services department and state Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro to investigate and prosecute the individuals.
Farooq, 57, allegedly failed to report more than $600,000 in income to the county social services department from Oct. 1, 2012, to April 30, 2018, and received $89,366.64 in Medicaid benefits to which he was not entitled, authorities said.
Quick, 49, allegedly did not report the income she received as an unlicensed home aide for an elderly couple, resulting in overpayment of $38,371.26 in Medicaid benefits from January 2014 to December 2016, authorities said.
Officials said she also received an overpayment of $29,285.20 in public assistance benefits from January 2014 to January 2017 and $12,357 in SNAP benefits from March 2014 to January 2017. In total, authorities say Quick recieved $80,013.46 in benefits to which she was allegedly not entitled.
Simmons, 45, allegedly did not report the income she received as a licensed home health aide, resulting in overpayment of $15,550.52 in Medicaid benefits from January 2014 to December 2016, officials said in the release. Simmons also received an overpayment of $12,148 in SNAP benefits from March 2014 to January 2017, which she was allegedly not entitled to, authorities said.
All three individuals were charged with welfare fraud in the fourth degree and, if convicted, each could face a maximum sentence of 1⅓ to 4 years in prison, authorities said. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Leslie Stevens.
Farooq, Quick and Simmons were each arraigned in September and released on their own recognizance, the release stated. Farooq is due back in court Nov. 4, while Quick and Simmons are due back Oct. 26.
Farooq is represented by Glenn Andrew Obedin, a criminal defense attorney from the Obedin and Weissman law firm based in Central Islip, according to the state court system.
Derrick Magwood, a Mineola-based attorney, is representing Quick, court documents show.
Simmons is being represented by the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society, according to the documents.
Calls to each representative were not immediately returned Saturday.