A Queens, New York City, couple has been charged for stealing nearly US$92,000 in welfare food stamps and healthcare benefits by concealing income the couple earned through employment.
The arrest of the husband and wife was announced by New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott and Queens County District Attorney Richard A Brown.
Dhaneshwar Sukhdeo, 42; and Samantha Sukhdeo, 46; of Lefferts Boulevard, were each arrested and charged with grand larceny in the second degree, welfare fraud in the second degree, conspiracy in the fourth degree and 12 counts each of falsifying business records in the first degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, all felonies.
The charges alleged that the couple falsified applications for public assistance benefits enabling them to receive $16,132 in food stamp benefits and $75,864 in Medicaid coverage to which they were not entitled.
“Through a brazen fraud, these defendants concealed their employment income so they could steal taxpayer-funded public benefits to which they were not entitled,” Inspector General Leahy Scott said in a release to the media.
“I will continue to use all of the resources at my disposal to protect the integrity of the public benefits system for those who are truly in the most need of financial assistance,” she added.
Meanwhile, District Attorney Brown pointed out that, “Food stamps and Medicaid benefits are intended to help the truly needy. The defendants in this case, however, are alleged to have taken advantage of the system by downplaying their income to collect assistance – making all taxpayers victims of their con.”
According to reports, investigations by Inspector General Leahy Scott found that between 2009 to 2016, the Sukhdeos fraudulently obtained $91,996 in welfare benefits to which they were not entitled by repeatedly submitting documents falsifying and concealing their household income when applying for food stamps (also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme, or SNAP) and Medicaid coverage.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state programme that provides health coverage for low-income and at-risk individuals. In repeated applications and recertifications for the benefits, the Sukhdeos listed no employment income for Dhaneshwar Sukhdeo, who was indeed receiving income as an electrical contractor.
Altogether, the Sukhdeos received $75,864.74 in Medicaid and $16,132 in food stamps to which they were not entitled.
The Sukhdeos were both arraigned on the charges in Queens Criminal Court last month and released on their own recognisance pending their reappearance in court on June 12.