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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General
HARRISBURG, Pa., May 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 59-year-old Margaret Peoples, of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, was sentenced by Judge Kelly Bigley to 18 months probation and was ordered to pay full restitution after pleading guilty to misdemeanor welfare fraud charges.
Peoples illegally received in excess of $3,150 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from June through December 2012. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 24 months.
Peoples was previously convicted of welfare fraud in 2000 for illegally receiving in excess of $2,200 in cash assistance and SNAP benefits from October 1997 through March 1998. After Peoples' guilty plea, she was sentenced to six months probation, and ordered to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
Zulma E. Santiago, 48, of Lancaster, Lancaster County, was sentenced by Judge Joseph C. Madenspacher to five years probation, and was ordered to pay full restitution, costs, fees, and fines after pleading guilty to felony welfare fraud charges.
Santiago illegally received in excess of $11,250 in SNAP benefits from February 2010 through May 2011. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 24 months.
This conviction follows a 2000 welfare fraud conviction when Santiago pleaded guilty to illegally receiving more than $1,250 in SNAP benefits for the period December 1997 through April 1998. Judge David L. Ashworth sentenced Santiago to 24 months probation and ordered Santiago to pay full restitution, court costs, and fees. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.
The following eight individuals were also recently prosecuted for fraudulently receiving public assistance benefits:
The Office of Inspector General's Bureau of Fraud Prevention and Prosecution is responsible for investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities for programs administered by, or contracted through, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW).
The Office of Inspector General works with DPW's county assistance offices statewide to identify suspected cases of public assistance fraud and with local district attorneys to bring the cases to prosecution.
Those found guilty of welfare fraud could face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000, mandatory restitution, and program disqualification.
The Office of Inspector General also relies on tips from concerned citizens. To report suspected fraud, call the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582. Callers may remain anonymous.
Visit the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General online at www.oig.state.pa.us.
Media contact: James H. Timko, 717-787-6835
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