Social Security Employees Charged With Welfare Fraud Scheme

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September 5, 2014:  Today, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office as a result of a joint investigation with the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General and the United States Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General arrested five (5) people for a complex welfare, childcare, and medical benefits scheme.  31-year-old Sakeenah Belle, 31-year-old Chanae Thomas, 30-year-old Felicia Fernandez, 38-year-old Abigail Millian aka Abigail Puscama, and 30-year-old Shonda Wayman have been charged with Welfare Fraud, Forgery, Theft and other related crimes.  Altogether the five defendants received over $76,000 in SNAP, Subsidized Child Care and Medical Assistant benefits.

Sakeenah Belle, Chanae Thomas and Felicia Fernandez were all employed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and are charged with under reporting their annual income in order to fraudulently qualify for food, child care and health benefits from the government.  Shonda Wayman and Abigail Millian were both employed at the Reading Rainbow Learning Center on North 3rd Street in Philadelphia, and they are charged with conspiring with Belle, Thomas and Fernandez in order to continue receiving those fraudulent benefits.

On March 6, 2012, the Social Security Administration (SSA) received a complaint alleging that SSA employee Sakeenah Belle was involved in the misuse of her computer and hard drive assigned to her by SSA.  Belle was accused of using her SSA computer to create fictitious Earnings and Leave Statements for herself, two other SSA employees, and two Philadelphia day care workers. It was alleged that the fictitious Earnings and Leave Statements created by Belle were being used to gain eligibility, or to remain eligible for Welfare Benefits, Medical Assistance Benefits and Subsidized Child Care Benefits.  SSA agents investigated the allegations and forwarded the information to the State Inspector General’s Office.  The Inspector General’s Office then referred the case the District Attorney’s Office.  Detectives from the DA’s Government Fraud Unit arrested the defendants this morning, and they are currently being processed by the Philadelphia Police Department.

 Total Benefits

  1. Based upon Sakeenah Belle’s submission of forged and altered Earnings and Leave Statements, her misstatements and concealments of material facts regarding her true and correct wages and access to Medical Assistance Benefits, it was determined that between March 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012 Sakeenah Bell fraudulently obtained $4,072.00 in SNAP Benefits and $2,805 in Subsidized Child Care (CCIS Benefits), a total of $6,877.00.  The Medical Assistance transcripts indicates for the period between March 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012 Sakeenah Belle obtained $32,219.00.
  2.  Based upon Chanae Thomas’ submission of forged and altered Earnings and Leave Statements, her misstatements and concealments of material facts to the Department of Public Welfare regarding her true and correct wages and her household composition, and family access to Medical Assistance Benefits from the SSA it was determined that between June 1, 2009 and October 20, 2012 Chanae Thomas fraudulently obtained $15,689.00 in Medical Assistance Benefits.
  3.  Based upon Felicia Fernandez’s submission of forged and altered Earnings and Leave Statements, her misstatements and concealment of Material Facts from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare regarding her true and correct wages, regarding the status of her family health benefits from her employer the United States Social Security Administration it was determined that between October 1, 2009 and October 31, 2012 Felicia Fernandez fraudulently obtained $950.00 in SNAP benefits.  A review of the Medical Assistance Transcripts indicates that between October 1, 2009 and October 31, 2012 Fernandez obtained $6,292.00 in Medical Assistance Benefits.
  4.  Based upon Shonda Wayman’s submission of forged and altered paystubs from Reading Rainbow Learning Center and her submission of two letters which contained false wage and employment information and her misstatements and concealments of material facts from the Department of Public Welfare it was determined that between January 17, 2012 and January 13, 20013 Shonda Wayman fraudulently obtained $2,675.00 in SNAP Benefits.
  5.  Based upon Abigail Millian aka Abigail Puscama submission of forged and alter paystubs from Reading Rainbow Learning Center and her concealment of material facts and false statements from the Department of Public Welfare it was determined that between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012 Abigail Millian aka Abigail Puscama fraudulently obtained $4,073.00 in SNAP Benefits.