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May K. Toney
07-15-2003, 02:31 AM
Ex-workers investigated
$20,000 may have been bilked from Jeffco aid program

By Charley Able, Rocky Mountain News
July 12, 2003

GOLDEN - A number of former Jefferson County Human Services employees are under investigation for allegedly falsifying welfare applications and reaping more than $20,000 for themselves, friends or family.

Golden Police Sgt. Dave Farley, who is spearheading the investigation, said Friday at least 33 cases of suspected fraud have been uncovered.

"There have been some crimes committed," Farley said.

Although Farley would not discuss possible charges, he said the crimes would be felonies.

The investigation involves money paid under the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, which is funded by the federal government and private contributions.

The program, which operates from November through April each year, is designed primarily to help recipients pay heating bills, but also assists low-income families with emergency aid for such things as furnace repairs.

The investigation is focused on a half-dozen or fewer temporary employees involved in administering the program.

Farley said the investigation has uncovered a number of likely methods that money might have been diverted.

"There is a possibility they gave it to family, they gave it to friends, they gave it to people who should not have qualified," Farley said.

In most cases, the program money is sent directly to Xcel Energy.

But in a few instances, in which landlords receive utility bills for rental properties and pass the charge along to tenants, the program recipients receive the funds directly.

In Jefferson County, just more than $1 million was paid to recipients for the 2002-2003 program. An average of $252 was paid to each of the 3,955 households that qualified.

The suspected scheme was detected after the county received a tip in late April.

The three welfare fraud investigators on the county payroll found enough evidence to alert the state, which transferred Jefferson County's administration of the program to another county.

Jefferson County officials then closed out their low income energy assistance files, dismissed the four remaining temporary employees in the program and turned the investigation over to Golden police investigators, said Jennifer Watson, spokeswoman for the county agency.

"Our internal welfare fraud investigators are continuing to assist Golden with the investigation," Watson said. "What we have tried to do is cast as wide a net as possible in looking at all of our LEAP cases so we can get a full idea of what we may or may not be dealing with."

Some of the former county workers under suspicion may also have submitted energy assistance applications for unwitting recipients, falsifying their addresses to divert the funds to themselves or others, Farley said.

In some cases, false information about household income was submitted to ensure the application would be approved, Farley said.

Farley said the loss to the program is more than $20,000 and investigators are delving into several years of LEAP records.

Farley said some of those suspected in the investigation have been cooperative, but it could be three to four weeks before he completes the investigation and turns his findings over to the Jefferson County District Attorney.

Kathleen Padgett
07-15-2003, 11:10 AM
It's sad that there's never enough money to go around for aid to those who desperately need the help to begin with. To hear about people stealing money that is intended to help the truly needy and depleting the limited funds available to them is very frustrating.

Mr Jose Bonavich Jr
07-15-2003, 07:51 PM
May, Kathleen,

A number of aid programs seem to be suffering from fraudulant (sp?) activity. The welfare program has been battling it for years. People who qualify in one state would cross into the next state and get additional benefits there.

I remember an article, probably 7 yrs ago, where a number of people from the upper mid-west were receiving checks/food stamps/medical from 4 different states. Making quite a good living without doing anything except driving to P.O. boxes once a month.

Programs like these can help so many who truely need it, but the abuses cost everyone, including tax payers who help support these programs.

Byron Burke II
07-16-2003, 07:00 PM
These types of fraud abuse are really quite common. I had report one a few months ago and nothing was ever done about it. It is good to hear that something is being done to get my tax dollors where they belong.

Michael Harris
08-01-2003, 02:44 PM
Again, Kathie has focussed on the right issue. The desperately poor need a hand up, but the people who are paid to help them steal from them.

Suitable punishment would be to strip the perps of all their possessions and let them try to get public assistance.

Kathleen Padgett
08-01-2003, 05:04 PM
Michael, good idea... now that's justice:)

Michael Harris
08-01-2003, 09:26 PM
Kathie,

I am taking two courses in a degree program in Criminal Justice -- Intro to CJ and History of CJ.

In the History class, I made some remarks that my professor did not agree with -- all justice really means is making a decision and letting everybody get back to what they were doing. In the case of criminal justice, get back to the lex talionus - "an eye for an eye" or "make the punishment fit the crime".

The bad guys have it too easy. And abuse of the public trust is one of the worst.

Kathleen Padgett
08-02-2003, 05:53 AM
Michael,

I agree, the criminal justice system has much room for improvement. It sounds like your courses are interesting and informative. When do you plan to graduate? Good luck with your studies.

Michael Harris
08-02-2003, 08:59 AM
Kathie,

I just got started. I finished my DBA dissertation last May and then did a PI course through Education Direct. I am also taking courses in photography and locksmithing.

I will pick up an AAS in Criminal Justice in about two years and probably continue with the criminal justice.

Diane Jarosz
08-07-2003, 11:25 AM
This is so sad.
I feel terribly bad for people in need of financial, medical and nutritional services, to only hear of the un-needy taking what is not theirs.

Hamurabi would have dealt with accordingly.

DJ

Tina M Phillips
01-01-2004, 07:14 PM
Originally posted by Michael Harris

I will pick up an AAS in Criminal Justice in about two years and probably continue with the criminal justice.

Michael,

This is my plan too. I am finishing up a BA in Art Design and want to get a AA in CJ.

To comment on this thread, I think this is one area I may want to explore when I start getting assignments.

Michael Harris
01-01-2004, 07:36 PM
I have friends who are police officers, parole officers, corrections officers, and social workers. This is the growth industry of the century.

Actually, I live in a township of 30,000 people. We have a juvenile detention center, a juvenile rehab facility, a facility for teens at risk, a center for mentally disabled adults, a medium-secutiry state prison, and a federal prison in town. We also have the county police academy. Are we messed up or what?

The PI/CJ programs make sense.

Tina M Phillips
01-02-2004, 12:07 AM
Originally posted by Michael Harris
I have friends who are police officers, parole officers, corrections officers, and social workers. This is the growth industry of the century.

Actually, I live in a township of 30,000 people. We have a juvenile detention center, a juvenile rehab facility, a facility for teens at risk, a center for mentally disabled adults, a medium-secutiry state prison, and a federal prison in town. We also have the county police academy. Are we messed up or what?

The PI/CJ programs make sense.


Wow!! That's alot of likeness. It sounds very interesting and that you have much to talk about with all of them. You're blessed!

Mary A Young -
01-02-2004, 09:55 AM
Welfare fraud is an area of interest to me. When I taught in the inner city, we see a lot of situations that we questioned as teachers.

Due to the moral decay of our society, fraud seems to be taken less and less seriously in some areas. It is difficult for people in the social services arena to monitor some of the welfare situations when they are overworked and short staffed. And did I mention that they are also underfunded?

Truly, its a sad situation. However, it is costing our government big time and that is why I see a need for people like us to get into investigations of fraud.

I wish others well as they look into getting into this area as I am.

Mary

Michael Harris
01-02-2004, 09:57 AM
Mary,

The basic issue - as you have pointed out - the moral decay in our society.

I did not know much about sin until I went to college. I grew up in a household with two loving parents and theocentric values.

No one seems to have values any more.

Tina M Phillips
01-03-2004, 12:06 AM
Originally posted by Mary A Young
Welfare fraud is an area of interest to me. When I taught in the inner city, we see a lot of situations that we questioned as teachers.

Due to the moral decay of our society, fraud seems to be taken less and less seriously in some areas. It is difficult for people in the social services arena to monitor some of the welfare situations when they are overworked and short staffed. And did I mention that they are also underfunded?

Truly, its a sad situation. However, it is costing our government big time and that is why I see a need for people like us to get into investigations of fraud.

I wish others well as they look into getting into this area as I am.

Mary


Mary,

I thank you for your comments. I agree that more people need to get into fraud investigations. I have made that a huge area of interest when I start out.

Tina M Phillips
01-03-2004, 12:09 AM
Originally posted by Michael Harris
Mary,

The basic issue - as you have pointed out - the moral decay in our society.

I did not know much about sin until I went to college. I grew up in a household with two loving parents and theocentric values.

No one seems to have values any more.

Michael,

As usual, you hit it on the nose!:) I grew up going to private schools all of my life and I have grew up to realize that the world in many ways have no more values. Many people are out to get what they want, anyway they can; even at the cost of others and their pain.

I know we can make a difference here.

Michael Harris
01-03-2004, 09:38 AM
Tina,

I have a daughter who is in her last year of high school. I have supported our school district for 13 years. I can raise funds and help with school budgets, but I am not allowed to influence the value systems the students have - or do not have.

We can do everything on the material side, but nothing on the value side.

The courts force us to have certain programs, but prohibit us from providing a decent, moral environment.:(

Alfonso Pelote
01-03-2004, 02:16 PM
This story really touches me because my mother lives in the State of Georgia, and she depends on assistance for her heat and electric. It saddens me to hear of people taking advantage of people. :(

Tina M Phillips
01-04-2004, 12:33 AM
Originally posted by Michael Harris
Tina,

I have a daughter who is in her last year of high school. I have supported our school district for 13 years. I can raise funds and help with school budgets, but I am not allowed to influence the value systems the students have - or do not have.

We can do everything on the material side, but nothing on the value side.

The courts force us to have certain programs, but prohibit us from providing a decent, moral environment.:(


Michael,

You are right. My personal side was just taking over a bit there.

Michael Harris
01-04-2004, 08:47 AM
Tina,

Just wait until I start talking about the book, The Language Police in relation to school textbooks and standardized tests!:(