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Boston — In a fourth quarter report issued today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said examiners with the office’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) found evidence of $2,806,252 in fraudulently obtained public assistance benefits and services, bringing the fiscal year 2012 total to $5,542,310.
Auditor Bump said BSI examiners completed 2,031 investigations during the fourth quarter, identifying 546 people defrauding the state of welfare, food stamps, childcare services, health care benefits, public housing or cash assistance.
“These investigations act as a deterrent to criminals and help agencies and vendors better manage public assistance programs so that benefits are available for those who need them most,” said Auditor Bump.
BSI examiners work with dozens of state agencies to document fraudulent activity. When cases are completed BSI either prosecutes the cases or refers them to the appropriate public benefit or law enforcement agency to recoup fraudulently obtained funds.
The report highlights several cases that have led to criminal charges.
One case involves a Chelsea woman, Marina Morrison, 22, who fraudulently collected $11,781 in MassHealth payments by falsifying documents to claim that she was performing services as a personal care attendant (PCA) for her patient for two months, including one month after the patient’s death. Morrison also continued to collect her patient’s Social Security payments for three months after his death, totaling $1,561. In June, Morrison was charged at Boston Municipal Court with two counts of larceny over $250 and false representations to procure money.
A second case involves Stephen Caprarella, 53, of Lynn, who fraudulently collected $4,988 in MassHealth payments by falsifying documents to claim that he was performing services as a PCA for his patient for three months after her death. Caprarella also was fraudulently collecting $2,271 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Emergency Assistance for Elderly and Disabled Children (EAEDC). Caprarella failed to report his income earned as a PCA to the programs’ oversight agency, the Department of Transitional Assistance, making him ineligible for the benefits received. In June, Caprarella was charged in Boston Municipal Court with larceny over $250 and six counts of false representation to procure money.
While the majority of allegations of public assistance fraud come from MassHealth and the Department of Transitional Assistance, the public can also file a complaint through the BSI fraud hotline at (617) 727-6771 or by sending an email to email@example.com. All complaints are kept confidential.
The Bureau of Special Investigations Fourth Quarter Report for Fiscal Year 2012 is available here.