Welfare Fraud

In Michigan Welfare Fraud can have several possible criminal consequences:
It is a crime under MCL 400.60 for a person to make a false statement, false representation, false impersonation, or otherwise to commit a fraud (or aid and abet in the commission of a fraud) to obtain assistance or relief which he or she is not is not justly entitled to receive.  It is also a crime to receive a larger amount of assistance or relief that the person is justly entitled to receive  An officer or employee of the Michigan Family Independence Agency who authorizes or recommends relief to persons known by the individual to be ineligible or to have fraudulently created their eligibility can also be prosecuted for Welfare Fraud.  A person who knowingly buys, or aids or abets in buying or disposing of the assistance received by an individual from the Michigan Family Independence Agency without the consent of the director or supervisor of the state agency can also be prosecuted as well.  A person who receives benefits either directly or through a relative who has a change of circumstances that may affect the amount of assistance available could also face a criminal charge of Welfare Fraud for failing to disclose the change of circumstances.
The punishment depends upon the amount of the benefit received.  If the amount involved is $500 (five hundred dollars) or less, the offense is a 1 year maximum misdemeanor.   If the amount involved is greater than $500 (five hundred dollars), the offense is a 4 year maximum felony.  The amount calculated is the difference between the lawful amount of assistance or aid and the amount of assistance or aid actually received. Naturally, an officer or employee of the Michigan Family Independence Agency who is convicted of any of the above referenced Welfare Fraud offenses will lose their job as well.
Examples of Welfare Fraud include: Trading or Selling Food Assistance Program (FAP) Benefits; Trading or Selling a Bridge Card;  Using benefits that the individual is not entitled to receive; Not reporting income on a timely basis; Misrepresenting income;  and Making a false or misleading statement to the Michigan Department of Human Services.
If the Michigan Department of Human Services suspects that a person committed Welfare Fraud it can elect to hold an administrative hearing to address the matter, bring criminal charges through the Attorney General’s office or a County Prosecutor for the jurisdiction where the fraud allegedly occurred, and/or have the person voluntarily sign a disqualification agreement.  The Department of Human Services always seeks restitution, and a repayment agreement is always part of any resolution short of trial along with 5% interest per annum on the amount outstanding.  A person who commits Welfare Fraud, if either convicted or signs a disqualification agreement, will be disqualified from receiving benefits for anywhere from 1 year to life.  A person found guilty in Court of trading FAP benefits for drugs will lose their benefits for 2 years. If the person is found guilty in an administrative hearing or in Court for lying about residency to receive benefits on 2 or more cases at the same time, the improperly received benefits must be repaid and the person is disqualified from receiving benefits in Michigan for 10 years.
There are several ways in which an individual can lose FAP Benefits for life: A person who is found guilty for a second time of trading FAP benefits for drugs; A person or a member of their household who is found guilty in Court of trading FAP benefits for firearms, ammunition, or explosives; If any member of a person or member of their household is found guilty in Court of trading, buying, or selling FAP benefits.
If you intend to contest the charge or charges of Welfare Fraud at trial, or are seeking to achieve the best possible resolution short of trial, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is a necessity.
Other Welfare Fraud related criminal felony offenses include: Food Stamp Fraud, $250 or Less, Second Offense (under MCL 750.300a(1)(a) this is a 5 year felony); Food Stamp Fraud, $250 or Less, Third or Subsequent Offense (under MCL 750.300a(1)(b) is a 10 year felony); Food Stamp Fraud, More than $250 to $1,000 (under MCL 750.300a(1)(b) this is a 5 year felony); Food Stamp Fraud, More than $250 to $1,000 – Subsequent Offense (under MCL 750.300a(1)(a) this is a 10 year felony); Food Stamp Fraud Over $1,000 (under MCL 750.300a(1)(c) this is a 10 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – Disclose Confidential Information For Financial Gain (under MCL 421.54(d) is a 1 year misdemeanor); Unemployment Compensation Fraud, Conspiracy with Loss of $25,000 or Less (under MCL 421.54(b)(i) is a 2 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud, Conspiracy with Loss over $25,000 (under MCL 421.54(b)(ii) is a 5 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud, Conspiracy with No Actual Loss (under MCL 421.54(b)(iii) is a 2 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – Embezzlement of $100,000 or More (under MCL 421.54c(b)(iii)  is a 5 year felony);  Unemployment Compensation Fraud – Embezzlement of $25,000 to under $100,000 (under MCL 421.54c(b)(ii) is a 2 year felony);  Unemployment Compensation Fraud – Embezzlement with No Actual Loss (under MCL 421.54c(b)(iv) is a 2 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – Failure to Comply With Act/Rule $25,000 to $100,000(under MCL 421.54(a)(ii)(B) is a 2 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – Failure to Comply With Act/Rule over $100,000(under MCL 421.54(a)(ii)(C) is a 5 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – False Statement as Condition of Employment (under MCL 421.54a is a 10 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – False Statement or Misrepresentation over $25,000 (under MCL 421.54(b)(ii)(B)  is a 2 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – False Statement or Misrepresentation without Actual Loss (under MCL 421.54(b)(ii)(C) is a 2 year felony); Unemployment Compensation Fraud – Willful Violation of Act/Rule over $100,000  (under MCL 421.54(b)(iv)(B) is a 2 year felony).