While You Work Hard, Some People Just Want to Milk the System

District Attorney Zugibe arrests seven for welfare fraud cases that cost the taxpayers over $300K.

As the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office continues its effort to crack down on social services abuse, DA Thomas P. Zugibe announced yesterday the filing of criminal charges against seven individuals on grand larceny, welfare fraud and other charges.

The DA’s Office is in the midst of an investigation aimed at the Waldron Terrace Housing Complex in Central Nyack and have hit pay dirt as the seven defendants – who range in age from 26 to 55 – are accused of stealing over $300,000 in benefits, and for falsifying applications submitted to, the Village of Nyack Housing Authority and the Rockland County Department of Social Services between 2002 and 2012, making it possible for each to fraudulently receive a variety of public assistance benefits.

The following individuals were arrested:

Samuel Sisco DOB: 11/26/82
128B Rt. 202, Pomona, NY
Welfare fraud in the fourth degree; Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree

Catherine Downing Sisco DOB: 2/23/58
32 Highview Ct, Nyack, NY
Grand larceny in the third degree; Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree

Patricia Solomon DOB: 9/1/70
26 Highview Ct, Nyack, NY
Grand larceny in the third degree; Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree

Veloura Parker DOB: 10/2/57
7 Highview Ct, Nyack, NY
Grand larceny in the third degree; Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree

Melissa Castillo DOB: 8/27/86
38 Pine St., Nyack, NY
Grand larceny in the third degree; Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree

Joan Christopher DOB: 1/24/66
38 Pine St., Nyack, NY
Grand larceny in the third degree; Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree

Quenetta Gulifield DOB: 4/1/64
11 Highview Ct, Nyack, NY
Grand larceny in the third degree; Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree

Benefits DA Zugibe claims the defendants attained through fraudulent means include federal and state housing subsidies, food stamps and Medicaid assistance. Zugibe said, “This crackdown is yet another step in our continuing campaign to stop fraud and abuse of our public assistance system in Rockland County. These arrests underscore our commitment to improve the quality of life for the residents of Nyack. Those who steal money intended to help struggling individuals and families will be marked for arrest, prosecution and prison sentences.”

Special Agent Cary Rubenstein, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, said, “The success of today’s search warrants and arrests demonstrates the superior commitment level of the state and local law enforcement officers and special agents from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General. When individuals fraudulently misrepresent their income and/or family composition to secure rental assistance from HUD, we participate in operations like the one today, to ensure these individuals, who at times can bring a criminal element into HUD Subsidized Housing, are brought to justice. Every HUD subsidized household has the right to safe, decent and sanitary housing.”

“Individuals who steal public benefits hurt not only the taxpayers but the people who really need the assistance,” said Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef. “Every dollar stolen is one less dollar available to help support an eligible household. I’m pleased that the Rockland County Department of Social Services has diligently worked to uncover this charged fraud, and we thank District Attorney Zugibe for agreeing to move forward with the prosecution of these individuals.”

“This clearly illustrates the importance of our relationship with our community partners, whether they are other county agencies like the District Attorney’s Office; or businesses; or residents, in identifying suspected welfare fraud,” said Susan Sherwood, Commissioner of Social Services. “It is crucial that we all take an active role in identifying fraud; and I encourage others to contact us if they know of or suspect fraudulent activities.”

The Clarkstown Police Department and Rockland County Special Investigations Unit have been working with the Village of Nyack Housing Authority, the Central Nyack Civic Association and local residents to reduce crime and other quality of life issues impacting the Waldron Terrace Housing Complex in Central Nyack.

Through information received from community members, investigators learned of individuals living in the housing complex illegally. An investigation found multiple instances of people fraudulently receiving housing and other public assistance benefits. In executing five court-authorized search warrants at addresses on High View Court and Pine Street in Nyack, it is alleged that detectives recovered evidence of the defendants’ jobs, income, living expenses and residency.

Also, allegedly recovered was evidence of unauthorized persons co-habitating at the various locations. The total amount of the benefit theft from government agencies by the defendants was over $300,000.

The defendants are variously charged with grand larceny in the third degree, a class “D” felony, welfare fraud in the fourth degree, a class “E” felony and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a class “E” felony. A class “D” felony is punishable by 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison and a class “E” felony is punishable by up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. Arraignments of those named in the complaints are pending in the Town of Clarkstown Justice Court.