Discussion Points for Punto Legal- March 23, 2016
Recently, I have been involved in criminal cases involving public assistance fraud. As you know, undocumented families can get public assistance for their United States-citizen children. For example, families can get food stamps and medical benefits for children born in the United States. There is Medicaid and CHP+ for United States-born children. Pregnant immigrants can get Emergency Medicaid for the delivery of the child. These are what we call means-tested benefits. In other words, the entitlement is based on the household income. If the household income is too high, then you do not get the benefit. These programs are administered through county’s Department of Human Service. The Department of Human Services in Garfield and Eagle Counties now have fraud investigators. This is a pretty new development.
The fraud investigators investigate parents whose children are receiving benefits, and they like to refer their cases to prosecutors for criminal prosecution. Let me give you an example of how you might get investigated and prosecuted. Suppose you have lived with your boyfriend for 5 years. You have two children with the boyfriend, and now you are pregnant with your third child. Suppose your boyfriend has a very good job as a carpenter. In 2015, he reported he earned $55,000 on his income taxes. You want to get Medicaid to pay for the delivery of the child because you know the hospital bill will be $20,000.00. If you conceal the fact that your boyfriend is living in the household in order to qualify for Medicaid, you are a good candidate for investigation and prosecution. Why? Because the records show your boyfriend was the father of your first two children. If your boyfriend is living in the household, you better let the Department of Human Services know about it. Otherwise, you can face felony theft charges.