Rockland County has charged 14 people with cheating the social services system to illegally obtain public child day care benefits that are in short supplying and worth more than $220,000.
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said 12 people have been arrested in an investigation by his office and the Rockland County Department of Social Services, with two more people being sought on fraud charges.
“These defendants are accused of cheating the system by fraudulently receiving payments from a program designed to provide benefits to the disadvantaged,” Zugibe said. “With so many low-income families truly in need of child care support, my office will aggressively pursue those who use deceit and fraud to feign a need for public benefits.”
Senior Assistant District Attorney Ameenak Kerim said that among the 14 people charged in the investigation, the largest sum involving a single person was $86,425.07 that Mendel Kirsh, 35, of 1 Pearl Driver, Monsey, is accused of illegally obtaining.
Kerim said Kirsh was receiving day care support, food stamps and Medicaid benefits and hid the fact that he owned two businesses, had several rental properties and his wife was not employed. He claimed that his wife was employed, Kerim said.
The total amount Rockland County says was stolen through fraud is about $229,000.
Rockland County Social Services Commissioner Susan Sherwood said the fraud was discovered with the assistance of a one-year, $60,000 state grant that helped the county improve its analysis of the social services system and to improve fraud detection.
Zugibe said that part of the program was a public awareness campaign that warned the community that social services fraud is a crime and those found abusing the system would be prosecuted. Zugibe said some of the 14 accused in the current investigation has already started making arrangements to repay illegally obtained funds.
Kerim said that three of the people charged in the probe have already pleaded guilty.
Sherwood said the investigation was critical for her department because of the short supply of funds to assist Rockland County families with child care. She said there are 750 Rockland County families currently receiving assistance through the day car program, providing services to 1,500 children.
However, Sherwood said about the same number of families and children are on a waiting list to obtain day care support.
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said the county is continuing its investigation and that others who are trying to scam the social services system will be discovered and prosecuted.
Charged in the investigation are:
Pamela Phillips, 34 Hilltop Drive, Monroe, NY. She has pleaded guilty to petty larceny.
Nathalie Antoine, 124 S. Main St., Spring Valley. She has pleaded guilty to petty larceny.
Christina Huffman, 67 Ewing Ave., Spring Valley. She has pleaded guilty to petty larceny.
Charity Casey, 193 Wayne Ave., Stony Point. She is accused of fourth-degree grand larceny.
Azuka Tuke, 139 Wayne Ave., Stony Point. He is accused of third-degree welfare fraud and third-degree grand larceny.
Jessica Ortega, 3944 Wilder Ave., the Bronx. She is accused of third-degree grand larceny.
Tishana Keene, 16 Balmoral Drive, Chestnut Ridge. She is accused of third-degree welfare fraud and third-degree grand larceny.
Amy Dellolio Lynam of 452 Somerset Drive, Pearl River. She is accused of third-degree welfare fraud and third-degree grand larceny.
Yesenia Abreu of 39 Qualls Road, Conchecton, NY, accused of third-degree welfare fraud and third-degree grand larceny.
Barbara Jordan of 175 Fred Hecht Drive, Spring Valley, accused of third-degree welfare fraud and third-degree grand larceny.
Dion Wilfong of 175 Fred Hect Drive, Spring Valley, accused of third-degree welfare fraud and third-degree grand larceny.
Mendel Kirsh of 1 Pearl Drive, Monsey, accused of second-degree welfare fraud and second-degree grand larceny.