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HARRISBURG, Pa.–  The Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) filed welfare fraud charges against 178 individuals for alleged crimes that occurred between January 1 and March 31 of 2019. The OSIG says the restitution owed the Commonwealth in these cases totals $886,055.54.  Additional cost savings will be realized as the defendants will be temporarily disqualified from receiving public benefits in the programs they allegedly defrauded.

“Our Office remains vigilant to protect the integrity of our vital public assistance programs,” said State Inspector General Bruce R. Beemer. “We are proud to work with our partners in law enforcement across the Commonwealth to help those in need and stop those who cheat.”

The OSIG filed ninety (90) cases of fraudulently receiving public assistance that were graded as felonies of the third degree. The defendants are:

• Kaycee Messmer, of New Castle in Lawrence County, for $1,220.00 in Cash Assistance fraud and $2,610.00 in SNAP fraud.
• Jessica Kiser, of Buchkannon, in Mercer County, for $995.40 in Cash Assistance fraud and 2,016.00 in SNAP fraud.
• Caitlin Gardner, of New Castle in Lawrence County, for $4,291.00 in SNAP fraud.
• Tiffany Brooks, of Sharon Hill in Delaware County, for $1,098.00 in SNAP fraud and $3198.47 in Medical Assistance fraud.
• Michael Riggens, of Sharon in Mercer County, for $711.00 in SNAP fraud and $2,572.74 in Medical Assistance fraud.
• Rebecca Fry, of Jamestown in Mercer County, for $10,838.48 in Medical Assistance fraud.

The full list of defendants is available online from the OSIG.

If convicted, the maximum penalty they face is seven years in prison and a fine of $15,000.00, plus a mandatory disqualification period from the benefits program they allegedly defrauded.

Also, the OSIG filed eighty-eight (88) misdemeanor charges of public benefits fraud.

The OSIG stresses all persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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