April 3, 2013 —
In a move that lawmaker Cindy Gieger has been pursuing for some time, a press conference was held at the government center on April 2 to announce the appointment of detective Gerald Dietz to the position of chief fraud investigator serving the Sullivan County Division of Family Services. There was also the announcement of the formation of Sullivan County’s first fraud investigation team, which includes not only Dietz, but all branches of law enforcement in the county.
In a sign that officials are already targeting social services fraud in the county, at least two arrests on such charges have been announced in the past week by county law enforcement agencies.
Gieger was quick to note that many people genuinely need social service benefits such as Medicaid, but she added that “Sullivan County has become a destination” for people who want to receive benefits. She said, “We must not allow one penny to get lost to waste, fraud, abuse or overpayment.” She said to those who would cheat the system, “If you are defrauding the system, do not come to Sullivan County,” which according to various officials, has gained a reputation as a place where benefits were perhaps easier to obtain than in other counties.
Also attending the conference were officials from most of the police departments in the county, and District Attorney Jim Farrell said the involvement of all of the New York State Police, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, the Monticello, Liberty and Fallsburg police departments and other county agencies was essential to success in the effort, “to bring people who defraud the county, defraud us as taxpayers, to justice.”
Sheriff Mike Schiff added, “There’s no way that you do this with one piece of the puzzle. You have to have a legislature in place that is willing to do what they need to do, you have to have management over at social services willing to do what they have to do, and some of this will not be pleasant.”
A tip line, 513-CFWA (short for Cut Fraud Waste & Abuse) or 845/513-2392, has been created along with an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org , where cases of suspected abuse can be reported.
Gieger said she expects the effort to result in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the county.