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FRAUD CHARGES REVIEWED; WELFARE CHEATING EXTENT QUESTIONED.

Byline: Douglas Haberman Staff Writer

Reacting to a grand jury report on Los Angeles County's handling of welfare fraud, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ordered a review of the panel's findings and recommendations.

The vote was 4-1, with Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich dissenting. He wanted the board just to adopt the grand jury's findings and to retain services of an individual or firm to oversee the implementation of the recommendations.

The grand jury report, issued last week, claims the county is losing up to $500 million a year through welfare fraud and not doing enough to stop the cheating.

``The hemorrhaging of tax dollars needs to end,'' Antonovich said, noting that a previous grand jury pointed out similar problems several years ago.

But the board tabled Antonovich's motion for a period of up to 30 days while the latest findings and recommendations are reviewed by the county's Department of Public Social Services, which issues welfare checks for county residents and monitors for fraud, and the county Auditor-Controller. The county's chief administrative officer, David Janssen, will oversee the review.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said he doubts the fraud is as extensive as the grand jury said it might be. In a recent year, the state gave Los Angeles County an award for keeping welfare fraud down, he said.

The grand jury found 16 major deficiencies in the county's system to prevent and detect welfare fraud.

Too few cases are investigated, more than a year might elapse before high-priority cases are assigned to investigators, and some fraud investigations have been called off because files were missing, the grand jury said.

The grand jurors said they also found insufficient monitoring of employees and the potential for employee fraud.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 7, 1999
Words:285
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