Brooklyn DA Announces 32 Indictments in Welfare Scams

By Helena Zhu, Epoch Times
April 27, 2010 Updated: April 27, 2010

NEW YORK—In front of his office on Tuesday, Brooklyn District Attorney (DA) Charles Hynes announced the indictments of 32 individuals, including business owners, landlords, and real estate developers, who stole close to $933,500 in welfare benefits from New York City.

“The City’s Human Resources Administration is not there for the personal enrichment of financially secure families who would rather not pay for their own health insurance or groceries, and it is certainly not designed to help drug dealers obtain cheap narcotics,” Hynes said in a press release. “All these scams and schemes significantly reduce the available funds for those who actually need public assistance.”

Hynes was joined by New York City Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

The largest theft was charged to Liz Sobeida, 37, who collected $460,000 in Medicaid benefits for herself and her two children between 2004 and 2009. She claimed to be a single mother on assistance applications, when in fact, she lived with her husband, who was employed as a technician at a Cadillac dealership and earned about $70,000 in 2009. She herself worked at Brooks Brothers.

Another defendant, Marlowe Gershenson, 35, was charged with collecting $63,000 in Medicaid benefits over a six-year period, despite that her husband, with whom she lives and co-owns property, has a clothing wholesale manufacturing company AV Denim and a real estate business MDK Leasing.

According to the indictment, her husband’s checking account had a balance of over $110,000 in 2007, and on the automobile loan application—she owns a Bentley Coupe and a Land Rover SUV—she claimed annual earnings of $500,000.

“We cannot afford to waste public money on unscrupulous individuals who conceal substantial assets and income to obtain public assistance. They should know that City investigators and prosecutors are zeroed in and determined to root out these abuses,” Hearn said.

Also charged in the cases were 11 defendants who either forged drug prescriptions or allowed others to use the defendants’ Medicaid cards to bill Medicaid for forged prescriptions totaling $13,000.

The DA’s Public Assistance Crimes Unit recently secured a felony conviction against a defendant who sold the use of his benefits card for $10 in order to fill a forged prescription for a controlled substance. He will face two to four years in prison when he is sentenced on May 11.

Of the 32 cases announced Tuesday, nine defendants live in Nassau and Westchester counties of New York and in New Jersey. They are charged with using fake addresses on Medicaid applications to claim residence in Brooklyn and with stealing approximately $182,000 in benefits.