Welfare Fraud and Financial Records
California’s welfare system purports to be built on liberal and compassionate ideals. Families in need will maintain a roof over their heads. Children will still eat when their parents lose a job. And those suffering deep economic troubles will not find themselves on the streets. Most individuals who apply for one of the many forms of government aid available in Los Angeles find the process to be non-threatening. Often a staff member conducts the intake interviews in a friendly and helpful manner. There is a lot of paperwork and a lot of signatures, and descriptions of a large government bureaucracy. Many applicants report that the staff person seemed to want to deliver all the possible benefits, spending time offering assistance from many different programs.
Almost everyone is shocked when later contact by the same agency, which is then accusatory, aggressive, and critical. A person may suddenly find themselves accused with a crime, though the welfare benefits have not changed for years. And the calculation of money that is owed back to the government can be compiled for many years, often adding up to tens of thousands of dollars. And the agency that seemed so helpful is suddenly the agency that wants a felony conviction, a conviction that could lock a person into economic distress for the rest of their life.
An individual who intentionally committed welfare fraud in Los Angeles would of course not be very surprised. But the majority of individuals accused of welfare fraud are very confused. The nice employee at the welfare agency, who was so helpful, is now listed as a witness in the criminal case. An accused person may remember the welfare employee being very casual, saying that a lot of things were not a big deal, to not worry about some of the details. But when questioned by an investigator, that same employee now swears that everything was done by the book, and everything was taken very seriously.The Los Angeles Fraud Investigation
A person accused of welfare fraud will find themselves on the bad end of a large amount of government attention and resources. An investigator will go to the family home and write down which cars are driven. The investigator will talk to the neighbors, ask how many kids live at the home, and how many adults. The investigator will pull school records. All members of a family will have their employers contacted, have all their pay stubs collected, and have their boss asked about any benefits or bonuses that each person received. Bank records will be pulled. Any deposit will be questioned, no matter if it was from money from a birthday, a garage sale, a one-time sale of a car or a piece of furniture, or even if it was payment of a debt owed.
An on-again off-again boyfriend, who contributes no money to the rent, food, and bills, could be labeled as a member of the household who must report income. All welfare benefits will then be affected by his income. The final determination of whether that person lived at the home may be based on a neighbor’s comment or a landlord’s assumptions. Then the recipient of welfare will be accused of perjury for not reporting the household living arrangements in a way that aligns with the neighbor’s statements. The investigator will not care that the boyfriend didn’t pay any money towards household expenses.
It is important that a person accused of any sort of fraud seek out an attorney who is experienced in that area of law. Such an attorney can conduct a more thorough investigation and provide statements to the investigator that give the full picture. Even if there was some overpayment, a skilled attorney can negotiate a repayment plan, limiting criminal liability to a misdemeanor, or even having criminal charges thrown out altogether. If the investigator overstepped the law in gathering evidence, the case may be thrown out in a suppression motion. A Los Angeles Welfare Fraud Defense Attorney can guide an accused individual through the difficult process of dealing with welfare investigators.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively counter fraud investigations on behalf of his clients.
For more information about Los Angeles Welfare Fraud investigations, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.