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Public Assistance Fraud Program producing staggering numbers

Fri, Mar 21st, 2014
Posted in All Health & Wellness

In June of 2013, Social Service directors and the sheriffs from Goodhue, Winona, Fillmore, Houston and Wabasha got together to come up with a new plan for working welfare fraud cases in those counties. For the last 10 years, one civilian had been working the cases for those counties. Last year, it was decided by social services directors that it should be placed back in law enforcements hands where it once was years ago. There was just enough money to put together one position for all five counties.

It was decided on in June of 2013 that an investigator would be housed in Wabasha County. An experienced detective was assigned the task and started working with human services in each of the five counties. As of January 1st 2014, the Wabasha detective worked on over 200 cases which resulted in over $600,000 in savings that was stopped in giving out to people. Some of these included: people that were not reporting income, people living with someone that was not reported or not even living in the county in which they said they were.

Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh commented, “We believe that we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s been going on. Our detective has a huge area to cover and is relying a lot on information that he receives from the public as well as from the financial workers in each of the counties that he is working. Law enforcement is excited to be a part of the system again. We remain compassionate to those who need some assistance. This program and our detective’s mission is to stop those abusing the system that you are funding!”

People wishing to report possible welfare fraud can contact Detective Mike Lavigne directly at 651-564-0122 or by email at mlavigne@co.wabasha.mn.us. You can also use the anonymous online tip at http://crimestoppersmn.org/.

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