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Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General: 50 Lackawanna County Residents Face Criminal Welfare-Fraud Charges.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- On behalf of Pa. Gov. Mark Schweiker, Inspector General Robert J. DeSousa today announced that welfare- fraud charges have been filed against 50 Lackawanna County residents who, in unrelated cases, allegedly collected more than $72,000 in public-assistance benefits to which they were not entitled.

These multiple filings are the result of the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) concentrated team approach to investigating and prosecuting public- assistance fraud. The team acts like a task force and is comprised of Claims Investigation Agents from the OIG's Northeast Region, including Agents Michael J. Critchosin, Alexis J. Goldman, Daniel M. Munafo, John M. Richards, and Melissa K. Yerges.

"These charges are a wake-up call to those individuals who cheat the system," DeSousa said. "The Office of Inspector General has conscientious agents working across the Commonwealth and, with the cooperation of district attorneys like Lackawanna County's Andrew Jarbola, we can ensure that public- assistance benefits go only to those who need them."

Preliminary hearings for all of these cases will be scheduled before District Justice Alyce H. Farrell at a later date.

This past November, the OIG released its annual welfare-fraud report, which showed that the OIG saved and collected more than $140 million last fiscal year by fighting fraud in taxpayer-funded welfare programs. For the first time, the report and a video overview of the report featuring Inspector General DeSousa are available online through the PA PowerPort at http://www.state.pa.us/, PA Keyword: "Inspector General."

Suspects who are found guilty of welfare fraud may face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000, mandatory restitution to the Commonwealth and program disqualification.

The OIG is responsible for investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities for programs administered by the Department of Public Welfare. Each year, the OIG works with county assistance offices and Child Care Information Services statewide to identify suspected cases of welfare fraud and with local district attorneys to bring the cases to prosecution.

The OIG also relies on tips from citizens. Anyone with information on suspected fraud is encouraged to call the Welfare Fraud TipLine at 1-800-932-0582 or e-mail the OIG at pafraud@state.pa.us.

The following is a list of suspects, as well as the dollar amounts they allegedly received:
 -- Robert S. Wallen, 34, and Jamie L. Atkinson, 21, of Carbondale, $897;
 -- Idalia Charles, 30, of Scranton, $699;
 -- Nicole Tomlinson, 21, of Old Forge, $773;
 -- Madelyn Zvolensky, 54, of Dalton, $601;
 -- Cynthia Naughton, 48, of Scranton, $1,139;
 -- Elvira E. Stevenson, 41, of Scranton, $6,709;
 -- Mitzi Finkler, 43, of Scranton, $1,254;
 -- Carol Mohyla, 38, of Scranton $1,102;
 -- Martin J. Stravinsky Jr., 24, of Dickson City, $954;
 -- Deborah Peck, 41, of Old Forge, $742;
 -- Maritza Cruz, 29, of Carbondale, $2,305;
 -- Sherry Hayes, 35, of Las Vegas, N.M., (formerly of Scranton) $3,248;
 -- Richard M. Sciartilli Jr., 32, of Scranton, $2,523;
 -- Brian G. McAlarney, 34, of Throop, $1,226;
 -- Karianne Welsh, 31, of Scranton, $6,030;
 -- Krista Owen, 22, of Scranton, $973;
 -- Lukisha Stevenson, 28, of Scranton, $2,369;
 -- Shelly A. Thompson, 33, of Scranton, $1,242;
 -- Gino D. Merritt, 39, of Dunmore, $527;
 -- Lori A. Bloom, 37, of Scranton, $1,076;
 -- Kenneth W. Robbins, 35, of Taylor, $3,710.95;
 -- Veronica A. Ford, 45, of Scranton, $785.20;
 -- Amanda L. Smith, 19, of Archbald, $632;
 -- Yvette Rodriguez, 28, of Scranton, $1,205.89;
 -- Latonda Y. Taborn, 28, of Scranton, $1,443;
 -- Trina Angelo, 26, of Scranton, $920.98;
 -- Debbie R. Thomas, 38, of Scranton, $1,894;
 -- Robert J. Schultz, 47, of Moosic, $1,877.50;
 -- Angel Cabrera, 44, and Ann Cabrera, 30, of Lake Ariel, $1,031;
 -- Bruce J. Reviello, 38, of Moosic, $907;
 -- Laurie L. Kohut, 27, of Scranton, $819;
 -- Tamica A. Martinez, 23, of Scranton, $1,110;
 -- Richie G. Clark, 34, of Scranton, $2,091.53;
 -- Michael Colwell, 51, and Shirley Colwell, 52, of Moscow, $1,042;
 -- Sharon Crawford, 44, of Scranton, $1,384.48;
 -- Joann Davis, 52, of Hamlin, $2,736;
 -- Michele Ezzo, 32, of Moscow, $936;
 -- Sylvia Flores, 31, of Scranton, $1,576;
 -- Sandra Jimenez, 30, of Scranton, $1,771;
 -- Kenneth Reid, 46, and Fay Reid, 38, of Scranton, $2,101;
 -- Tammy Vail, 26, of Avoca, $540;
 -- William O. Smith Jr., 22, of Scranton, $820;
 -- Patricia Morris, 42, of Scranton, $670;
 -- Dawn Glogowski, 27, of Dunmore, $842;
 -- Joel Kasprzak, 41, of Clarks Summit, $1,546.95; and
 -- Irene Donnelly, 43, of Carbondale, $1,427.


CONTACT: W. Scott Foster of the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, +1-717-783-7788.

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Contact: W. Scott Foster of the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, +1-717-783-7788

Website: http://www.state.pa.us/
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Date:Feb 11, 2002
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