Recent arrests in Massachusetts prove that people from all walks of life commit crimes and the advantageous sector of welfare benefits provides ample opportunities for those looking to make a quick buck. The Huffington Post reports that two Massachusetts lottery winners have been accused of collecting welfare benefits. James Casey Jr. of Waltham and Frank Basile of Belmont face charges of larceny and fraud as of May 2012. After a full investigation, the Boston Globe reports that James T. Casey Jr. allegedly collected $12,157 in MassHealth benefits and $1,553 in food stamps since allegedly winning more than $700,000 from the state lottery in Massachusetts. In addition, Frank Basile allegedly collected $17,500 in MassHealth benefits despite having allegedly cashed in more than $316,000 in winning lottery tickets over four years. The two reportedly failed to report their lottery winning in order to claim the public health benefits. Welfare fraud is a serious criminal offense resulting in both civil and criminal penalties for those convicted. Welfare fraud takes place when people make false statements or fail to report important information when applying for these types of public programs in order to receive benefits to which they are not otherwise entitled. If convicted, Casey and Basile could potentially face incarceration for up to five years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. If you are suspected of welfare fraud, you should contact a well-educated welfare fraud defense attorney as soon as possible to maximize your chances of avoiding conviction. In some instances, early intervention by a lawyer may prevent the loss of welfare benefits or the filing of criminal charges.
Instances of welfare fraud have become more prevalent in recent years, as the economy continues to produce negative results and Americans feel the pressure of unemployment and lay offs. The Boston Herald reports that nearly $2 million in taxpayer-funded Massachusetts welfare has been fraudulently claimed since the beginning of 2012. In Massachusetts, the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI), part of the State Auditor’s Office, is in charge of fraud prevention for public assistance programs. The Bureau of Special Investigations has identified many people who took advantage of welfare, food stamps, health care, housing, and childcare services. While welfare fraud remains a detrimental and growing problem, detecting instances of this practice are difficult because the current law does not require the lottery to disclose its list of winners to MassHealth. State officials have worked to change this so that they may combat the rising costs of the crime and Alec Loftus, spokesman for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, says that as of 2014 MassHealth will have access to tax records.